Back in September, 2011 the Kasich team was already developing talking points for their plan to “leverage” the Ohio Turnpike’s revenue stream into a one-time pot of money for Kasich to fund his pet transportation projects.

We recently obtained a copy of the internal talking points memo (posted in full below) that provides ODOT and Turnpike representatives with a standard answer to the question “Why are you looking at this option now?”

  1. As you may know, Ohio is facing a budget and infrastructure crisis.
  2. With the current budget shortfalls and decreases in the amount of gas tax revenues, future investments for our infrastructure are in jeopardy.
  3. The state of Ohio will soon be at a cross-road – not having enough money to support new investments in major Infrastructure projects or even the ability to maintain our current Transportation System.

Again, that was September 2011.  And the state was in disarray and near disaster according to the Governor.

At this week’s State of the State address, Kasich painted a much rosier picture of the state and it’s financial situation

“Tonight I can tell you with great confidence,” Kasich exclaimed. “We are succeeding here in Ohio in turning our state around, and it is fantastic.”

According to Kasich “Our budget is balanced. In two and a half years at the end of this fiscal year … we have gone from $ 0.89 in our rainy day fund to a $1.9 billion surplus.”

Things are so great, Kasich claims, that the state is planning to give away $4.4 Billion in incomes tax breaks to some rich folks – sorry, “job creators” – over the next two years.

This leads to the obvious question:  Can we now ignore all of that scary talk about  “current budget shortfalls” and the state being “at a cross-road”?

If we’re no longer facing a “budget crisis” and if we have plenty of extra money laying around “to support new investments” like tax cuts for the wealthy, then we certainly have enough to put together a common sense , long-term infrastructure funding plan that doesn’t involve burdening the Turnpike with billions of debt for decades?

Apparently not.

The Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the Turnpike is already looking for lawyers and investment banks to handle the bond deal.

Since we have a $1.9 Billion surplus (thanks to nearly a billion from Strickland) and we can afford a $4.4 Billion in income tax cuts – why in God’s name are we borrowing money to pay for short term road fixes without making any attempt to solve the long term problem?

“We have significant infrastructure needs,” claimed Kasich in his SOTS. “Under the current system, we fall way short of funding those needs.”

But the Kasich budget does absolutely nothing to fix the current system.  Instead, he simply takes out a huge loan, makes the Turnpike pay it off, then kicks the can down the road.

This is irresponsible budgeting at its worst.

Kasich claims he learned a lot from his part in developing a balanced the federal budget under President Clinton.  “You can never spend more than what you take in. Overtime, it makes no sense,” he said in his SOTS.  But that’s exactly what he’s doing with the Turnpike.  And – we agree – it makes no sense.