Democrats In Legislature Urged To Rise Up, Say NO

By John K. Hartman


The 49 Democrats in the Ohio Legislature repeatedly have been kicked around and rolled over by the Kasich bus.

They are outnumbered in the Ohio House, 60-39, and the Ohio Senate, 23-10.

The Republicans created enough safe districts to virtually guarantee that they will control the legislature for the next decade.

All the Republicans need to maintain total control Ohio’s government is to re-elect Gov. Kasich in 2014.

After his first-year blunders and resultant under-water approval rating, Kasich has been mending fences and tacking toward the middle. His approval rating is now even to slightly above even 17 months before he is up for re-election day.

His signature moderate issue has been support of Medicaid expansion that would cover 275,000 low-income Ohioans.

The ultra-conservative Republicans in the Ohio Legislature are opposed to this government “welfare” program and are refusing to provide the votes needed to pass it in spite of Kasich’s Bible-quoting pleadings.

However, the Democrats in the House and Senate are seen as supportive of the measure — because Democrats care about the less fortunate — so all Kasich needs to do is find 11 Republicans in the House and 7 in the Senate to join with the Democrats and victory is his.

This needs to be done by June 30, when the next biennial state budget must be passed. The clock is ticking.

In other words, Kasich needs Democrat votes to pretend to be a moderate and increase his re-election chances.

It is time for the Democrats in the Ohio Legislature to rise up and say NO.

It is time for the Democrats to demand a return to moderate government in Ohio on several key issues in return for their votes.

It is time for the Democrats to demand that in exchange for their votes for Medicaid expansion, they want:

–No change in taxation levels and no new taxes.

–Restoration of lost funding for the public schools.

–Restoration of lost funding for local governments.

–An end to legislative attacks on women’s health rights.

–Full accountability by JobsOhio that includes a list of all donors and amounts, all employees and their salaries and benefits and total budgetary disclosure now and in the future.

–Kasich and the Republicans to devote as much legislative attention to improving all public school districts in Ohio as had been given recently to the Columbus Public Schools.

–An end to legislative attacks on public employees rights and abandonment of any attempt to impose a Right to Work (for less) law in Ohio.

–An end to attacks on voting rights, such as the effort to discourage college students from voting.

It is time for House Minority Leader Tracy Heard and Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney to rise up and lead their caucuses in saying NO to Medicaid expansion until the above demands are met.

Kasich and the Republicans are used to kicking around and rolling the bus over the Democrats.

Rep. Heard and Sen. Kearney need to lead their Democrats in putting the monkey (bus) on the backs of Kasich and the Republicans and watch them squirm. Kasich’s re-election chances will diminish as he is shown to be in the grip of the right-wing Republicans in the Ohio Legislature who are trashing the state.

Democrat Ed FitzGerald is mounting a strong challenge in the gubernatorial race and can only be helped by this ploy.

The time for the Democrats in the Ohio Legislature to draw a line in the sand is now. The answer to voting for Medicaid expansion and getting nothing in return is NO.

(John K. Hartman, of Powell, O., is an author, journalism professor and Democratic activist.