One interesting aspect of the state budget mess to which no one is paying attention is that John Kasich has determined that he doesn’t need any staff representing Ohio’s interests in Washington, DC. Traditionally, Governors have a Washington representative who works closely with our congressional delegation and federal agencies to ensure that legislation and program rules are written in a way that benefits Ohio, and that Ohio gets its fair share when federal money is doled out.
Governor Strickland’s DC office was instrumental in convincing the Obama administration to include direct aid for states in the federal stimulus package – something that prevented dramatic cuts and went a long way toward allowing Ohio to fill what was, in the last biennium, a $6 billion gap between spending and revenue.
Going into a biennium facing an $8 billion shortfall, and when a second round of federal stimulus is not looking especially likely, and when federal grant funds represent a full 20% of the state GRF, what does John Kasich say about having a DC representative?
[Kasich] questioned whether the Governor’s Office needs to maintain a permanent office in Washington.
“I think we need have to regular meetings. I don’t think we need a Washington office to accomplish this – that’s just a bunch of people down there walking around,” he said.
And he’s made good on his promise. While Ohio still appears to have an address in the Hall of States, no one on the Governor’s staff list is assigned there, and calls go straight to voice mail instructing you to call the Columbus office for help.
Here’s the audio to prove it:
It is in that context that we point out that Congressional Republicans today announced plans to slash $74 billion from the federal budget, targeting a large number of programs and agencies that Ohio relies upon for essential services, ranging from Community Services Block Grants, WIC, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, COPS, EPA, Clean Water, Drinking Water, Centers for Disease Control, Community Health Centers and many more.
Why would Ohio want to be at the table speaking up for its communities and its people when those programs are on the chopping block and when our budget is already severely constrained?