The Columbus Dispatch reports what Harris’ Plan B really was:
Unable to find enough votes, Senate Republicans are going home until December without plugging the $851 million state-budget shortfall.
“I assure you, we have a plan, and it’s a good plan. But it takes bipartisan support.”
In other words, there never was a “Plan B” that Harris thought he could get passed with little or no Democratic support. Harris was clearly trying to intimidate the Senate Democrats by inferring that if the Democrats didn’t swallow the conservative ideological sweetners to the bill (which included, among other things, turning out state parks into oil and gas fields), then something the Democrats really didn’t like was just behind the curtain that the GOP could pass on their own.
To her credit, Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro and the Democratic Senate caucus called their bluff. It wasn’t a hard call– if the GOP caucus really did have a plan their majority could push through the Senate without the Democrats, the only thing that stopped them from doing that would be the realization that it would all wind up in a conference committee and a protracted negotiation with the House Democrats anyways.
Between the two minority caucuses, the Senate Democrats (despite their small numbers) have demonstrated that they are more politically relevant than even the House Republicans who are only a four-seat swing away from being in the majority. Politics is funny.
So what happens now? Well, the Senate GOP plans to leave town and not even come back until DECEMBER to attempt to resolve this.
Governor Strickland, you don’t have to let this happen. Article III, Section 8 of the Ohio Constitution states: “The governor on extraordinary occasions may convene the general assembly by proclamation and shall state in the proclamation the purpose for which such special session is called, and no other business shall be transacted at such special session except that named in the proclamation, or in a subsequent public proclamation or message to the general assembly issued by the governor during said special session, but the general assembly may provide for the expenses of the session and other matters incidental thereto.”
Do it. Call a special session. Tell the General Assembly that nobody gets to go on recess until this is resolved. Ohio cannot afford another month delay. The Senate GOP has now had two months to resolve this. The pressure needs to stay on them, especially now that they’ve all but conceded that some level of suspension of the last phase of the 2005 income taxes is necessary.
You have the momentum, don’t let them walk away from the table.