DeWine to consider reopening Ohio governor’s D.C. office that was shuttered by Kasich

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is considering opening a Washington, D.C. office, a move that would reverse previous Gov. John Kasich’s decision to shutter that office.

DeWine, in Washington for his first National Governor’s Association meeting as Ohio governor, said Sunday that his staff is consulting with congressional offices to determine how useful it would be to reopen the D.C. office.

Kasich closed Ohio’s state office when he became governor. Before that, Gov. Ted Strickland and his predecessors kept an office not far from the U.S. Capitol to track federal issues.

“It’s not just how we tie into congressional offices, but how we tie into the administration with different departments, agencies," DeWine said.

A D.C. office would track more routine federal matters, such as grants and other dollars for which the state can compete, as well as larger agenda items, he said.

“I think when you have an opinion about everything, I’m not sure anybody listens to you. You’ll find we’ll be fairly judicious in the contacts we have as far as issues,” DeWine said.

Many of the conversations, he said, will remain private. For example, DeWine again refused Sunday to comment on President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, a decision that could draw federal dollars away from a handful of military construction projects in Ohio.

“I’m not going to weigh in publicly on that,” he said.

DeWine also defended himself against criticism from his 2018 political opponent Richard Cordray that he had broken a promise when he proposed an 18-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase to pay for crumbling roads and bridges. DeWine said he announced during the campaign that he planned to put together a commission to receive input on how to pay for state infrastructure and vowed to consider its recommendations.

“That’s what I said during the campaign, and I think what I’ve done is consistent,” he said.

He acknowledged that raising the gas tax “is not something that anyone wants to do,” but he said the gravity of the problems necessitated his proposal.

“I’m not going to go borrow more money,” he said. “We’re already paying $390 million more a year just to service the debt on projects that are gone. The credit cards are maxed out.”

He said while a federal infrastructure bill “would be welcome,” that “it’s not going to eliminate the hole that we’re in.”

“I take the world as I find it,” he said. “I can’t wish that something else would’ve happened five years ago or 10 years ago either in Ohio or at the federal level. Governors deal with the world, and we deal with the reality of (what) we find.

“If I don’t deal with Ohio’s infrastructure problems, people are going to look at those roads and see where we are two years from now and four years are from now and they are going to be understandably and correctly furious that we didn’t do anything, that we didn’t take the action that we needed to take.”

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