Just last month, John Kasich gave a meandering State of the State speech which lacked virtually any specifics. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro (D) and others pointed out it seemed virtually no different than the stump speech Kasich had given at Chamber of Commerce and other local organization meetings across the State.
As is often the case with Kasich, the speech showed the beginning of a divergence between Kasich’s rhetoric about his budget and his actual budget:
Kasich seemed to be giving a stream of conscious speech that said more about his state of mind than the State of the State. He felt like the prior seven weeks had been seven years. He expressed frustration that the “historic” nature of what he’s done hasn’t gotten the public accolades he feels are warranted, and he wanted to talk up education reform, the importance of higher education, and helping fight the scourge of “low-weight babies,” but without admitting the budgetary realities he himself will create the next week on those very issues. Speeches without facts can be popular, but in one week’s time Kasich’s rhetoric would be faced with his own budgetary numbers.
Kasich, of course, continued his tendency to spread the myth that the State of Florida is doing so much better economically than Ohio despite having a substantially higher level of unemployment.
Just a week later, Kasich unveiled his State budget in a self-described “town hall” meeting in which Kasich spent the first two and half hours interviewing his own Cabinet, followed by only a handful of actual audience questions. Given that the majority of the audience were folks who were friends or families of Administration figures, this was particularly weak.
One of the first details we learned about Governor Kasich’s budget was his plan to securitize the revenue stream from liquor sales to fund JobsOhio.
And after two solid years of constantly attacking Governor Strickland for relying on “one-time” federal stimulus money during the height of the Great Recession, we learned that Kasich’s post-recession budget contained billions in one-time money.
As Kasich publicly boasted about how his budget boosted funding for schools, the media and other budget watchers (such as us) kept getting hung up on how his Administration’s own budget documents suggested he was massively cutting funding for schools.
We then started see a list of schools and local governments announcing that they’d likely be seeking higher local taxes in order to avoid the massive and painful spending cuts Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget would cause them.
After proudly declaring that there were “no smoke and mirrors” in his budget, Gov. Kasich got tripped up when his own budget director admitted that he couldn’t explain how Kasich’s budget balanced the supposed predicted $8 billion deficit. Then the Cleveland Plain Dealer started reporting how Kasich’s budget guts a consumer protection agency, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel’s office, even though the move doesn’t really save the State any money. We noted how while Kasich’s office is largely spared any significant cuts, programs for disabled children were not.
We asked how Kasich could call it a “Jobs” Budget when it predicts that Ohio will have a slower economic recovery over its term than we saw after the recession under Governor Strickland. The conservative think tank, the Buckeye Institute, gave the budget a decidedly negative review, almost publicly pining for the days of a true fiscal conservative: Governor Ted Strickland. The Kasich budget, everyone quickly realized, was more about balancing the State’s budget by raiding other levels of government’s funding sources than it was about reforming them. Later, the top three state government bonding rating companies on Wall Street would give Kasich’s budget a thumbs down, too, while praising Ohio’s ability under Governor Strickland to weather the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, we produced a video that compared the rhetoric of Governor Kasich on the campaign trail all the way to his inauguration speech to the realities of his budget:
On top of the “Kasich levies” we saw starting to pop up across the State, Kasich’s budget delivered a “double whammy” to freshman State Rep. Terry Johnson (R) who was “stunned” to learn that Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget would cost his district hundreds of good paying jobs in his high poverty, high unemployment Appalachian district. Then, it was reported that Kasich’s budget requires the maximum security prison in Lucasville, where the State conducts all of its executions, to leave most of the guard towers entirely unstaffed. Meanwhile, the State’s pension funds reported that they expected Kasich’s budget mandated changes to the State’s pensions that would render them insolvent and cost Ohio thousands of jobs.
As Kasich’s “Jobs” budget rendered all sorts of records in the numbers of Jobs it killed, the Kasich Administration broke another record: the longest delay past the deadline that any Administration has submitted the statutory language for its budget. For two weeks, the House Finance Committee heard testimony over a budget that had no details and the members were given no prepared remarks by the witnesses.
Attention also went to Kasich’s education portions of the budget where the underperforming and inefficient charter school system saw massive increases in spending while better performing public schools saw their funding slashed. After some disingenuous spin, the Kasich Administration finally released a school district by district breakdown that showed that Kasich’s budget did not, as Kasich promised, put more money into the classrooms, but substantially less instead. It got so bad, the Dispatch had to report that Kasich’s budget was partially to blame for causing the school Kasich’s daughters attend to close.
It took the Ohio media outlets like the Columbus Dispatch nearly two weeks after Kasich first introduced his budget to realize just how much of a hit K-12 public schools were taking compared to any other section of the budget, save those dealing with local government funding. The Dispatch also reported exclusively on how, after promising in his State of the State that his budget would make it easier for the elderly to stay in the homes and out of expensive nursing homes, Kasich’s budget actually slashes funding for the PASSPORT program, which is the main program designed to help seniors stay in their homes and out of more expensive nursing homes.
Between BudgetWatch and this site, we turned our sights to six pages of the massive budget bill that gave an unelected Cabinet official in the Kasich Administration virtually unfettered authority to privatize anything the State does that he pleases in a process that renders any revenue earned by the companies taking on the privatized services no state tax liability at all. We noted how Kasich’s budget seemed to weaken Ohio’s civil service protection laws and implement the same “merit pay” system for teachers as contemplated by SB 5.
Innovation Ohio projected that Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget would actually cost the State over 50,000 jobs, a figure the Administration hotly denied even while the ODJFS prepared a task force to prepare for the massive teacher layoffs it suspected Kasich’s budget would cause.