The weekend editorial coverage of the Senate GOP’s inability to produce a package that would get the support of 17 State Senators (even though the GOP has 22 in its ranks) was universally negative.
The Columbus Dispatch (R-Columbus) strongly condemned the lack of leadership in the State Senate Republicans:
“Do the leaders of the Ohio Senate feel no obligation to the people they were elected to serve?
For the Senate to take off for a 12-day holiday, leaving undone the critical task of shoring up Ohio’s budget, is irresponsible.
The messy compromise plan found few backers: Only two Republicans on the Finance Committee committed to voting for it, and all 12 Senate Democrats said they’re sticking with the full income-tax delay contained in House Bill 318.
Republicans’ real game — drawing out the budget mess to hurt Democrats, especially Gov. Ted Strickland, in next year’s election — is clear in the cynical remarks of Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, who gloated about the damage the impasse will do to the other side of the aisle.
He told the Gongwer News Service that, if Democrats wouldn’t support the compromise bill, which wasn’t even supported by Republicans, “then come Dec. 31, the education governor gets to cut public schools by 10 percent.”
It’s past time for Senate Republicans to show that they care about balancing Ohio’s budget as much as they care about politically wounding their opponents.
Joe Hallett said the Senate Republicans looked “foolish.”:
And when only a half-dozen of the 21 GOP senators said they would vote for their own alternative, they blamed Strickland and the 12 Senate Democrats for killing it and abruptly bolted Columbus until December, leaving the budget and all who depend on it in limbo.
The usually thoughtful Sen. Jon Husted embarrassed himself by blaming the GOP’s failure on Strickland’s “schizophrenic leadership.”
And Sen. Tom Niehaus, No. 2 Republican leader, said a budget solution “is out of our hands now,” contending that “it’s up to the governor” to come up with an alternative.
Strickland has offered one. It’s been deemed the least painful option by a batch of Republican constituencies. Senate Republicans, most of them in safe GOP districts, are fearful that anything even resembling a tax increase vote could subject them to primary challenges from arch-conservatives.
They’re willing to risk the well-being of their constituents just to save their own hides. Never has a legislative majority tried so hard to avoid responsibility.
And in both the Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Thomas Suddes also called out the Senate Republican’s failure of leadership:
Obviously, if at least 17 Senate Republicans backed their own Republican budget “alternative,” Senate Republicans would have passed the “plan” last week. They didn’t, because they couldn’t. That is, Senate Republicans won’t even pass their very own brainstorm.
Yes, the Senate GOP saw no supporters for their complete inability to pass an alternative, despite having a majority large enough to pass whatever its caucus collectively decides.
And, yet, even today, the Senate Republicans are trying to blame Governor Strickland for their inability to pass their own plan!?
Gov. Ted Strickland didn’t mince words last week when asked what he thought about a proposal by some Senate Republicans to fill an $851.5 million hole in the state budget.
“This is a joke,” Strickland said of the GOP plan, which failed to get enough votes from Republicans to be passed. “They should be embarrassed — embarrassed — at what they have presented.”
And they should be embarassed. After stacking the GOP plan with one conservative poison pill after another in a series of giveaways to major Republican constituencies, the Senate GOP likely didn’t even have the votes to pass their “plan” out of the Senate Finance Committee, let alone get anywhere close to a majority of the Ohio Senate without the lockstep unanimous support of the Democratic Senate caucus, who wisely asked, if your guys aren’t going to vote for it, then why should we?
Chairman Carey has said he wished the Governor’s office would stop talking to the media and tell them what the Governor could support. However, the Governor has already told them and everyone else in Ohio months ago what he could support. The Senate Republicans are the ones who are holding out while being completely unable to come up with a viable alternative that can be supported by a majority of their own caucus or the Senate.
After the shameless and undeserved political grandstanding by Niehaus, Seitz, and Husted which included Niehaus demanding that the Governor come up with an alternative to a GOP plan so unpopular, it had no father.
The Senate GOP’s delays demonstrates a party so held hostage to an extreme ideology that it CANNOT meet even the most basic responsibilities of governing. Where does the Senate GOP get the stones to reject their own plan and then blame the Governor for not coming up with an alternative that is not the plan that received bipartisan support in the House, but not also the Senate GOP’s plan that wasn’t supported by either caucus? When will they realize that this situation is becoming an embarrassing political liability for them is giving the Senate Democrats more political relevancy than they’ve ever had in recent memory?