I’m sure there will be dozens of Butler County Republicans willing to support the governor and his new budget, so let me present the Democratic view. There are two sides to every coin, and this one is far from perfect. Here are three big problems with the Republican budget that passed the Ohio Senate last week: First, it’s true that Kasich balanced his budget and did not raise taxes, but he did steal tax revenues from public schools and local governments and reassign them to the state. This blatant political tactic of seizing CAT taxes and other revenues that were previously allocated to fund local townships will devastate local governments; but it will have one major benefit. It will let the governor argue in 2012 that he “lowered” taxes, while those awful school boards and local leaders tried to raise them! Isn’t that tricky? Well played sir! Ohio law mandates that schools and local governments provide basic services. That alone will force local school boards and local governments to raise taxes next year. In fact, schools and local governments will cut jobs, lower wages, and raise taxes, but the total effect will fail to make up for the losses in state funding. West Chester Township alone will lose roughly $5million per year over the next two or three years, and the Lakota School District will lose more than that!
Secondly, how do you sell a budget in a bad economy when its primary feature is job cuts? Apparently, you call it the “Jobs Budget!” Let’s be clear about one thing – this budget cuts jobs. The public schools alone will lose roughly 50,000 jobs in the next two years. When the governor claims that he is creating jobs, he means that he is reducing taxes for corporations and wealthy estates. He may even believe that works. The facts say they don’t. The Bush tax cuts proved beyond a reasonable doubt that tax cuts don’t create jobs. Our national unemployment rate increased from 5% and peaked over 10% after the Bush tax cuts were passed. By the way, they passed by just one vote, exactly ten years ago. Our economy has been in trouble ever since.
Third, Kasich is selling major state assets, including prisons, the liquor monopoly, the lottery, and drilling rights in state parks. He’s selling them at fire sale prices to his friends and allies. He campaigned against one time sources of revenues like the federal stimulus package passed in 2009, but these asset sales are one time sources of revenue that will help balance his budget but make it harder to balance future budgets in the State of Ohio. With the state coffers nearly empty, and our economy still sputtering, why is Kasich cutting taxes for his friends and increasing the tax burden on the middle class? When these taxes are shifted to the local level, you know we will be the ones paying! Meanwhile, the local members of the right wing like to worship the idea of “No new taxes!” Well no one likes to pay taxes, do they? No elected official wants to increase them either, so we hope you didn’t want your child to have a first class school. We can’t afford that. We hope that you can afford a new set of shock absorbers because your local road maintenance is about to be deferred. Got burglar alarms? Your police department is about to be cut back. And we’re really sorry if you needed that “911” service for an ambulance… because we just can’t spend money we don’t have! Voters will be talking about Kasich’s budget for years to come, and they may say to one another, “You know, we could have done better.”
Butler County Democrats
June 12, 2011