State Sen. Bob Peterson gave a town hall meeting earlier this week which was documented in this piece from the Wilmington News Journal. Since nearly every answer the Senator gave his constituents was inaccurate or just completely wrong, I’d thought we’d do a little fact check post to help clear things up.
CASINOS AND SCHOOLS
In response to a question about casino dollars for schools Peterson says:
“The legislature has the potential to designate some of our (casino) funds to schools. There’s going to be plenty of money to spread around everywhere for all of us. Certainly the legislature has the opportunity to spread it around.”
Actually, the legislature has no such power.
Casino taxes are written into the Ohio Constitution. The ballot initiative that changed the Constitution to allow casino gambling specifically says that thirty-four percent and ONLY Thirty-four percent of the total taxes gathered from Casinos will go to counties to pay for education. That’s it.
I know Republicans like to play fast and loose with Ohio’s Constitution, but there isn’t “plenty of money to spread around.” It’s all been accounted for.
When asked about balancing the budget through privatization, Peterson was at least honest (and accurate) when he told the audience that selling off state property didn’t help balance the budget. But he did throw in this at the end: “In the last budget there were a couple prisons that were privatized.”
To be fair, the budget did authorize the state to sell five prisons. But the bids were so low, that only one – not “a couple” – was actually sold.
OIL AND GAS “BOOM”
According to this chart by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, there’s no potential for shale oil and gas development in Jackson County, but that didn’t stop Peterson from telling his constituents that “there’s tremendous potential” here for people to capitalize on Ohio’s oil and gas “boom”.
According to the article, Peterson also said the state is spending $635 million less this year than last year. It wasn’t a direct quote, so I assume he also said “when you take out Medicaid spending”. Either way, it’s a BS number – the same one Kasich is pushing around – and it’s not true.
As we pointed out a few days ago, the budget does appear smaller if you ignore Medicaid spending. But since Medicaid makes up nearly HALF OF THE BUDGET – you can’t just randomly exclude it and pretend you are cutting spending. Overall GRF spending under Kasich went UP over FIVE BILLION dollars. This is hardly “spending less”.
While I’m sure his constituents appreciate the fact that Senator Peterson showed up to answer their questions, I think they would have appreciated it a little more if he actually gave them truthful and accurate answers. I’m just glad we’re here to help clear things up.