Not even a month after signing his budget into law, and Governor John Kasich is ready to go on a spending spree.
Here’s a headline the Kasich Adminstration cannot be happy with:
Gov. John Kasich spends $2 million off-the-cuff; unexpected cash is for the state’s children’s hospitals to collaborate
Here’s the story from today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Gov. John Kasich on Thursday spent $2 million so calmly and nonchalantly you would have thought he was just handing over $2.
While touring a research laboratory at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus the governor asked the hospital’s CEO Dr. Steve Allen what it would take for all six Ohio children’s hospitals to work more collaboratively on medical research projects.
Kasich then upped his offer, negotiating against himself, to $2 million. He then turned to state Rep. Anne Gonzales, a suburban Columbus Republican, who was also taking the tour, and told her that he may need to snatch the money from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, the so-called rainy day fund.
He would need legislative approval to take rainy day cash. Gonzales said Kasich had her vote.
“I’ll give you a couple million,” Kasich said, brokering a deal before a small throng of television cameras, reporters and hospital workers in a small research office. “But you’ve got to share it. It’s not mine, it’s the taxpayers.”
Gee, thanks for finally realizing that it’s our money, not yours, Governor. Look, I’m all for encouraging our great children hospitals to work together on cutting edge pediatric medicine research. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the Kasich Administration just put nearly a quarter of a billion of the Strickland surplus into the “rainy day” fund because the Great Recession just wiped it out. We need to squirrel away money into the fund so that Ohio can be prepared the next time the economy hits a recessionary cycle.
The “rainy day” fund is just that. It’s for Ohio’s economic rainy days.
What it is not, and never has been, is a political slush fund for the Governor to earmark for his political pet projects. The Administration had a choice as to what they would do with the nearly $1 billion Strickland surplus. They could have put more money into public schools or restore cuts for local governments who took it on the chin in this budget. Kasich decided to put nearly a quarter of a billion into the rainy day fund. And, frankly, you might quibble with the amounts, but you can’t fault the decision. Replinishing our rainy day fund is what the major credit rating agencies said is something Ohio must do to improve the outlook for their credit.
But that money isn’t sitting there to pay for something whenever the Governor decides he wants to make news by throwing taxpayer money around. They’re called budgets for a reason, Governor. And if you want to spend $2 million on this new program, then tell your Office of Health Transformation to find a way to adjust the budget to find a way to do it. There’s plenty of other sources for this funding other than the rainy day fund, any of which would be more appropriate.
And yes, Kasich’s staff was completely caught flatfooted on the issue. They had no idea that he was about to commit $2 million to the State. They even tried getting OBM Director Tim Keen on the phone during the event while he was on vacation to try to get some answers of where the funding could come from. This is your “austerity” Governor, folks.
It’s not called the “rainy day” fund so Kasich can “make it rain” like Mecklenborg at a strip club. This is just not how you make good public policy.