Yesterday marked the 100th day since Speaker Batchelder’s GOP caucus took over the House. So, of course, every caucus in the General Assembly had to take time out to declare their thoughts on just how they’re doing.
We’ll start with the Ohio House Republican Caucus. Here’s what they themselves listed as their major achievements in the first 100 days:
House Republicans applaud a job-focused 100 days
The creation of the agile economic development entity JobsOhio and the establishment of a regulatory reform program through the Common Sense Initiative illustrate the House Republicans’ commitment to creating jobs and assisting small business development. The House also introduced and passed House Bill 58 to offer tax relief to families and retain businesses that have received offers to relocate to other states.
The House Republicans have also passed the following bills, among others:
• H.B. 2 to improve transparency by auditing certain state agencies
• H.B. 20 to prohibit intimidation of victims of a crime
• H.B. 21 to bring Teach For America to Ohio, improve schools and attract young, educated people to the state
• H.B. 30 to repeal costly unfunded school mandates that were included in the Democrats’ “evidence-based” model
• H.B. 36 to restore school calamity days from three days back to five days
• H.B. 63 to amend judicial consent to an abortion and ensure that minors comprehend possible physical and emotional complications
• H.B. 64 to add K2/Spice, a synthetic marijuana, to the list of controlled substances in Ohio
• H.B. 66 to create a fraud-reporting system in an effort to save tax dollars and make state spending more accountable
• H.B. 93 to crack down on “pill mills” that have led to rampant prescription drug abuse in Ohio
• H.B. 114 is a fiscally responsible transportation budget that eliminates millions of dollars in fee increases and embraces consolidation of services
• H.B. 159 to strengthen voter identification laws and ensure that elections are as fair and accurate as possible
• S.B. 5 to retain middle-class jobs, reduce costs on local governments and help hold down local tax burdens through collective bargaining reform
• S.B. 73 to amend liquor permitting for businesses that use liquor as an ingredient in food, which will lighten the costs on small businesses.
Of the thirteen bills listed in the House Republicans’ release, they themselves admit that at least eleven out of thirteen having nothing absolutely to do with creating jobs.
It was enough to lead House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) to fire back with a press release pointing out that the House has spent more time on abortion than any other issue:
“The first 100 days of one-party rule in Ohio has been filled with partisan attacks on the middle class,” said Leader Budish. “The Republican’s agenda to divide Ohioans with politically motivated legislation continues to amaze me and goes to show how out of touch they are with Ohioans.”
Legislation that takes away workers rights (Senate Bill 5) and limits overtime pay (House Bill 61) are measures that Democrats say hurt middle class families. Additionally, Republicans have also supported eliminating all-day kindergarten and undoing many of the other education reforms which received national recognition (House Bill 30) and are likely to support the state operating budget, which cuts $3.1 billion in funding for Ohio’s school children.
“Just over 100 days ago Republicans were promising job creation, but they have forgotten those promises,” said Budish. “Instead of creating jobs, the House Republicans seem more intent on taking away workers rights, voting rights and women’s rights.”
In a little over three months, at least four bills dealing with abortions have been introduced, passed out of committee or passed on the floor. House Republicans also passed House Bill 59, which could be one of the most restrictive voting rights laws in the entire country.
“Republicans promised job creation and have delivered something entirely different,” Leader Budish said. “It is disappointing that the voices of thousands of Ohioans can be heard so clearly, yet ignored so easily. The GOP’s partisan agenda is out of touch and, if it continues, it will place us on a path towards destruction of our local communities, school districts and an erosion of the middle class in our state. It’s time they start listening more to the people of Ohio than their political allies.”
The Ohio House has spent more time considering legislation regarding abortion than they have: JobsOhio, the State budget, or SB 5. And whatever ability the House Republicans believe SB 5 has in lowering the local tax burden is evaporated (and then some) by the massive cuts the Governor’s budget makes to local governments. What good is Kasich’s creation of a fire brigade after he burns the cities’ fiscal house down?
But this has to be the first time in Ohio history in which a majority caucus in the State legislature called the lowering of standards and accountability in public education an “achievement.”
Bill Batchelder became Speaker by having his caucus run on a campaign that they’d focus like a laser on job creation. An objective review of the last 100 days would suggest they’ve been far more scattershot in this regard. His caucus also attacked a number of Democratic incumbents for “cutting” state funding for education, when in reality total funding for K-12 education went up under Governor Strickland’s last budget. What will those members elected, in part, to that line of attack tell their constituents when next month they’ll vote on Kasich’s budget which actually cuts funding for education by nearly $2 billion?
And what does it say about a legislative majority when one of their self-professed crowing “achievements” is being given better than 50/50 odds of being totally repealed by voters come November? Or a “voter fraud” bill that is opposed by a Secretary of State that belongs to the same political party as they do?
At this rate, come November ‘12 there will be more Ohioans counting the days until Batchelder will no longer be Speaker than those who proudly count the days he’s already been Speaker.