Gov. John Kasich, let’s talk Ohio. You’ve been to Munich, for a foreign affairs conference. And in London, you’ve sought new investments in Ohio. That’s good. So is your sterling support of Medicaid expansion, which gives thousands of Ohioans, many of them the working poor, health care coverage.
But, governor, the General Assembly has begun reviewing the two-year budget you proposed Jan. 30, a budget that has big problems you need to address – in Columbus.
For instance, the Legislative Service Commission reports that, if your budget passes as proposed, the state will provide $787 million to local governments and libraries during fiscal year 2019.
In Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s last fiscal year, they got $1.06 billion.
And in your current budget, you want to harm the state’s large urban centers even more by altering the formula, taking from Cleveland more than $2 million, and many millions more from other big (and many small) cities, to give to rural Ohio or to communities that have lost population and/or failed to raise local taxes.
In other words, you want to penalize those cities — like Cleveland — where residents recognize critical needs and tax themselves, and you want to do so without regard to the needs of those cities.
What’s particularly ironic is that those needs reflect your own regressive tax policies, in lowering state income taxes while effectively forcing localities to raise their own income taxes because of your budget cuts.
Cleveland.com’s Rich Exner reported in November that, between 2012 and the first half of last year, voters “approved 69 income tax increases in cities and villages across Ohio.”
Did they have any choice?
Ohio’s libraries are ranked as America’s best. You yourself will be counting on them to provide needed online learning in today’s competitive economy. Yet your budget proposes a nearly $7 million cut to library funding in the upcoming fiscal year. That cannot be justified.
No question, governor, public schools have challenges. But your budget would require teachers to “shadow” a business person (to help teachers understand workforce training needs) in order to renew teaching licenses. Given the many misperceptions about public schools, wouldn’t it make just as much sense for business people – or legislators, or even you, governor – to shadow teachers?
You earlier suggested, governor, that your budget would offer a plan to reform how Ohio draws congressional districts, which are now scandalously gerrymandered. Redistricting reform is the kind of sea change that could form part of an enduring gubernatorial legacy before you step down in 2019. But your budget, House Bill 49, doesn’t mention the subject.
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood,” the great architect Daniel Burnham said. His landmark Wyandotte Building, built in the 1890’s a half-block from Ohio’s Statehouse, still stands. That’s a legacy. As proposed, Ohio’s pending budget isn’t. It needs lots of work, governor, and it needs you, amid the fray – at the Statehouse.