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An ad by Mike DeWine's campaign for governor says that Richard Cordray, a former state treasurer and attorney general, along with Gov. Ted Strickland raised taxes. An ad by Mike DeWine's campaign for governor says that Richard Cordray, a former state treasurer and attorney general, along with Gov. Ted Strickland raised taxes.

An ad by Mike DeWine's campaign for governor says that Richard Cordray, a former state treasurer and attorney general, along with Gov. Ted Strickland raised taxes.

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman October 29, 2018

Mike DeWine ad blames Rich Cordray for raising taxes and job losses, but that's misleading

Ohio Republican Mike DeWine says Richard Cordray held statewide office at a time when the state bled jobs and hiked taxes.

"During the Strickland-Cordray era, taxes were raised by $800 million and Ohio lost 400,000 jobs...," says a TV ad by DeWine, the current attorney general. "Richard Cordray will raise taxes. Kill jobs."

Previously, we found that DeWine has misled by stating that Cordray will raise taxes.

Here we will fact-check whether Democrats Cordray and then-Gov. Ted Strickland were in office when Ohio raised taxes by $800 million and if Ohio lost 400,000 jobs. These are similar to attacks we heard from Ohio Republicans in 2010, and like back then, they omit some context.

The new attacks pertain to when Cordray was state treasurer from 2007 to 2008 and attorney general from 2009 to 2010.

We found that it is misleading to blame Cordray for job losses or tax increases during his tenure because he had the responsibility for neither.

"Taxes were raised by $800 million"

This statement pertains to a decision by Strickland in late 2009 to freeze a scheduled 4.2 percent income tax cut, the final year of a five-year cut. But the attack ignores the context of the cancelled tax cut and provides no evidence Cordray had a role in it.

The tax cut freeze was adopted after a plan to place slot machines at Ohio racetracks fell through, leaving a hole of more than $800 million in the budget, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate signed off on the deal, narrowly.

Strickland had to find a source of revenue or would have had to slash programs to balance the budget. And part of the reason for the shortfall can be pinned on Republicans, who increased spending in seven consecutive budgets while also cutting taxes when they controlled the General Assembly.

However, the cut was scheduled to be reinstated the next year. Whether deferring a tax break for a year is the same as raising taxes has been a point of contention.

PolitiFact Ohio previously found that those who owed the state after filing their 2009 taxes owed a little bit extra thanks to Strickland’s tax freeze. Strickland’s decision cost a family of four earning $60,000 a year about $78.

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Deferring a cut isn’t precisely the same as a tax hike, and either way as attorney general Cordray didn’t have any responsibility for it.

"Ohio lost 400,000 jobs."

It’s true that Ohio lost jobs while Cordray was in office, but this ignores that he wasn’t to blame for the national recession.

Ohio lost about 368,000 jobs between January 2007 and December 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

During the 2000s, Ohio lost a lot of manufacturing jobs. Most of the state job losses between 2007 and 2010 can be attributed to the severe national recession, University of Akron Professor Michael Nelson said.

"It is possible that a very modest amount of jobs could have been created had the scheduled state income tax cut gone through, but it would have minimal," he said. "The bottom line: A state economy is driven first and foremost by what is happening in the broader national/international economy."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer compared the job record of Strickland with the current governor, Republican John Kasich, and found "in both cases, like every other period as long as Ohio has been electing governors to four-year terms starting 60 years ago, Ohio has done worse than the nation as a whole."

Ohio consistently has gained jobs at a slower rate than the country, or in bad times, lost jobs faster than the nation.

DeWine campaign cites Cordray’s comments about taxes

The DeWine campaign did not provide any direct evidence that Cordray played a role in the tax freeze or job losses. Instead, the campaign tried to portray Cordray as an opponent of policies that would grow jobs or reduce taxes and tried to lump him together with Strickland’s tax policy.

For example, spokesman Joshua Eck pointed to Cordray’s criticism in 2010 over JobsOhio, a proposal by Kasich to replace the Ohio Department of Development with a private nonprofit. That doesn’t mean Cordray was to blame for job losses, he just didn’t support a private takeover of the entity.

Eck pointed to statements Cordray made during this campaign about taxes, such as slamming Republicans for cutting state taxes. But Cordray has also said several times that he doesn’t see a need for tax increases.

Our ruling

DeWine said, "During the Strickland-Cordray era taxes were raised by $800 million and Ohio lost 400,000 jobs."

This is a case of misplaced blame. The ad tries to scare voters into portraying Cordray as a tax hiker responsible for job losses when in fact there is no evidence he deserves any blame.

Then-Gov. Strickland delayed the fifth year of an income tax cut to fill a budget hole in 2009, but as attorney general Cordray had no role in that decision. Ohio did lose those jobs, but the national recession was to blame -- not anything done by Cordray as treasurer or attorney general.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

Our Sources

Mike DeWine campaign, Ad, Oct. 20, 2018

Statenews, "Cordray's Plan To Fix Roads, Bridges and More Won't Involve New Taxes,"

Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Richard Cordray questionnaire, 2018

Rich Cordray campaign website, "A plan for Ohio’s middle class," Accessed Oct. 26, 2018

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Ranking Ohio governors for jobs: John Kasich's current term is a lot like Ted Strickland's record vs. the U.S.," May 22, 2018

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray debate in Cleveland: An issue-by-issue recap," Oct. 8, 2018

Dayton Daily News, "Guns, minimum wage top issues in Ohio Democratic governor primary," May 3, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "Campaign ad watch: DeWine's attack plays loose with facts," Oct. 18, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "Candidates still dodge ugly truth," Sept. 19, 2010

Cincinnati Enquirer, "State budget battle rages," Nov. 22, 2019

Times Gazette, "Cordray opposes Kasich’s JobsOhio plan," Aug. 24, 2010

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, All employees total nonfarm in Ohio, 2007-2010

PolitiFact, "In Ohio, Mike DeWine misleads in video that says Richard Cordray wants to raise taxes," July 24, 2018

PolitiFact, "Republican Governors Association says Ohio lost 400,000 jobs on Gov. Ted Strickland's watch," Aug. 3, 2010

PolitiFact, "GOP challenger John Kasich says Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s tax freeze amounted to a tax hike," Oct. 13, 2010

PolitiFact, "Kasich ad puts all the state's budget woes, job losses on Strickland," Oct. 19, 2010

Interview, Joshua Eck, Mike DeWine campaign spokesman, Oct. 22, 2018

Interview, Mike Gwin, Richard Cordray campaign spokesman, Oct. 22, 2018

Interview, Greg R. Lawson, research Fellow at the free market Buckeye Institute, Oct. 23, 2018

Interview, Michael Nelson, University of Akron economics department chair and professor, Oct. 23, 2018

Interview, Zach Schiller, Policy Matters Ohio research director, Oct. 22, 2018

Interview, Nancy Rogers, former Ohio attorney general and Ohio State University professor emeritus of law, Oct. 23, 2018

Interview, George Zeller, Economic Research Analyst, Oct. 22, 2018

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Mike DeWine ad blames Rich Cordray for raising taxes and job losses, but that's misleading

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