Mary Taylor brings campaign for governor to local business leaders

COLUMBIANA — Mary Taylor is optimistic she can be the next governor of Ohio, and believes she is the most business friendly candidate in the race.

Taylor is currently lieutenant governor under John Kasich, a position she has held the last seven years.

The Republican visited Columbiana on Monday to hear from area business owners and politicians as part of her campaign.

The informal business roundtable discussion at the Dutch Haus restaurant was co-organized by the city’s Republican Mayor Bryan Blakeman, who is her campaign chairman for Columbiana County.

Before becoming lieutenant governor Taylor spent 16 years in the private sector as a certified public accountant, with clients from small- and medium -sized businesses in northeast Ohio.

During her last seven years at lieutenant governor she has led the Common Sense Initiative (CSI), which she said changed regulations for more than 7,000 businesses in Ohio through its reform.

The purpose of CSI is to create a more job friendly environment for economic development.

“I think we are a great model for Washington, D.C., and other states across this country,” she said.

If elected, she plans to fix the public education sector to get students immediately into their coursework.

“Our kids aren’t learning the stuff in high school the way that they should,” she said, adding that she would like to see more internships.

For small businesses, she wants to see less of a “burdensome, cumbersome” tax return process, going back to the original postcard size return.

“I have already rolled out a proposal for streamlined tax return. I want you focused as a small business on your business and not tax compliance,” she said.

Turning her attention to the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) — one of the top two concerns among the business leaders gathered — she said that as governor she wants to see a direct primary care system in the state.

She explained that under that system patients would pay a flat fee of say $50 a month to their own primary care doctor for primary care services all outside of health insurance, leaving insurance plans for catastrophic coverage.

Michael Rulli, owner of Rulli Brothers outside of the county, said that Obamacare cost his company $750,000.

Rulli is currently running for state Senate representing the 33rd District, a seat currently held by Democrat Joe Schiavoni, who is also running for governor.

John Kufleitner, owner of the local Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, said the rising cost of health care is making it difficult for business owners and employees.

“Obamacare is killing us,” Taylor agreed.

She believes that going back to a consumer-driven, market-based approach will help, and will also attract more young people to go into the medical field because doctors will have more time to dedicate to actually caring for patients rather than paperwork.

“We can come up with a solution we just need the support of Washington D.C. to do so,” she said.

Dr. Anita Hackstedde, CEO of the Salem Regional Medical Center, said she has seen several smaller area hospitals shut their doors as a result of the Medicaid expansion.

The expansion was allowed under Obamacare, providing states the option to choose to receive federal funds for those enrolled who are at or below 138 percent of the poverty line.

Taylor has openly opposed the expansion and told Hackstedde that she believes the overall costs of Medicaid can be reduced by other solutions, one of those being the direct care system.

Terry Watson of A Plus Powder Coaters in Columbiana asked if anything could be done with workers’ compensation with regards to how long it takes to get an employee back to work.

Taylor said the result is looking into other ways to manage pain as opposed to turning immediately to prescription pain killers.

“The medical community went too quickly to prescription pain pills other than physical therapy,” she said.

When it comes to local government, City Manager Lance Willard said it is a struggle to keep up with regulations.

“Regulations are killing us … they just keep moving the finish line. It’s very frustrating,” he said of the regulations handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency specifically in regards to the wastewater treatment plant project the city began in the early 2000s.

Willard said the city spent $14 million on the wastewater plant project, only to have more regulations imposed as years went by.

Taylor said the new requirements are coming out of D.C. and that there is not much the state can do when it comes to federal regulations.

She said she wants to see every agency work with the legislature to roll back some of the laws that don’t make sense.

Other regulation concerns expressed during the meeting were with regards to the energy sector.

Taylor said the state should get on board with the cracker plant project in Belmont County, and wants to see something similar in Ohio.

She also wants the state to invest in the pipeline infrastructure.

Taylor also has plans to address the state’s opiate problem.

“Not only is it a human toll issue, with regards to deaths, but it is an economic issue,” she said.

Taylor announced her runningmate, Nathan Estruth, last week.

He has 27 years of experience working for Proctor & Gamble, and just recently stepped down as CEO to join Taylor as her lieutenant governor.

“We are the conservative ticket. We represent the outsider,” she said.