At the start of Gov. John Kasich’s first term, he called one prominent Ohio educator the state’s best politician, a high compliment, indeed, coming from a master politician who still dreams of being president soon. Ohio’s head of state bestowed this honorific declaration on none other than the bow-tied and bespeckled one, Elwood Gorden Gee, former president of The Ohio State University, whom the governor smiled down upon by appointing him to his hand-picked board at JobsOhio, the secret billion dollar baby that has yet to deliver jobs in any real quantity and has fallen short of even meeting the national average for job creation for 26 consecutive months. Citizen Kasich promised to create jobs in 2010, but more than four years later, Ohio remains more than 100,000 jobs short of pre-Great Recession levels, as experts have asserted.
Some Educators Make Bad Politicians
Flash forward to 2015, Gov. Kasich is now taring some educators who are speaking out in opposition to his education funding plan as “politicians,” and not the good kind of educator-politician like Mr. Gee. His snide put-down is an open window into his combative personality, where the Lord is with him always, and together their swords will smite their enemies. Those enemies today are actual educators who have looked at his education plan and decried it a crazy quilt of bad policy. Spoiler alert: Buckle up for more slap downs by the whiz kid from Westerville.
Fairbanks Superintendent Bob Humble clearly lit Gov. Kasich’s fuse, according to one report, when he declared the Administration’s plan “absolutely the craziest, most-goofiest formula I’ve ever seen.”
Basic Kasich always punches back, and one local report quotes Gov. Kasich saying, “We need more superintendents who are educators and less superintendents who are politicians.” Ohio’s aspiring president is at his best when the deck is stacked in his favor, which it usually is when he lets media engage him these days. Rattling off one-liners without fear of being challenged is a favorite high-ground for him. He didn’t mention Humble by name, but he did call critical comments to his plan from educators like Humble’s “irresponsible.”
A student of Mr. Kasich’s 37 years as a politician, which included 18-years in Congress and a half-dozen working at jobs he got because of his long and lucrative life as a government employment, knows Gov. Kasich doesn’t take criticism well, or at all. He’s had time to change, but that’s not this governor’s style. Get snide, be mean, bite back, be on offense. When you encounter a bump in the road, put it in 4-wheel drive and run over it.
When the Associated Press was right last year, when Mr. Kasich apparently appeared in an AP article to not understand the relationship between the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, he said they were wrong. The nonsensical explanation offered by the governor’s press secretary’s only confirmed the AP covered him accurately.
The governor’s education funding plan is just the latest example of breaking and entering through the budget door. Withhold LGF and public school funds, then give it away in the form of income tax cuts to those who don’t need more tax breaks. Witness, continuing to keep local governments and schools on rations while there’s plenty of cash to feed them whole meals again. Instead of healing the public sector, as many other states have done as the nation claws back the 600,000-plus local government jobs lost due to the Great Recession, his insistence on topping out the state’s emergency or rainy day fund will sound good, even though it continues to starve local governments and schools. Gov. Kasich will portray his payback stinginess as good money management, but it’s really his vindictive political ideology at work in disguise. It places more burdens on locals to fend for themselves, with the hoped for inevitability that when locals do fend for themselves, they will take on public unions—salary freezes, givebacks or reductions, whatever reduces their ranks, which in turn reduces their political power. This in lieu of taxing those who can easily afford to pay more.
Gov. Kasich’s education plan shows he’s up to his old tricks again, this time picking on schools who he short-changed, who have managed their money well enough to carry some over from year to year. Instead of congratulating them for their good fiscal discipline, Gov. Kasich spy’s their savings and say’s they’re greedy for having it. After all, in Gov. Kasich’s world, one dollar less from the state to the locals means one dollar more he can put into his income-tax-cut piggy bank. Republicans in the legislature will determine how far their conscience will allow this governor to skim the till.