It’s not often we agree with much Ohio Gov. does or says, but it’s never too late to offer him some positive feedback in the hopes he’ll be a better governor going forward. As his big budget spending bill wends its way through House and Senate committees and floor votes to his desk, it should be remembered that while he did a good thing today, he’s previously enacted into law more than one irresponsible, 11th hour budget-bill insert that was never discussed in regular order.
Shrimp Cocktail For Kasich
His line-item veto Wednesday of one portion of the state transportation budget (HB 53), that would have discouraged out-of-state college students and active duty military personnel from exercising their constitutionally protected right to vote, deserves positive reinforcement, a refreshing change. When the question was posed to one prominent House Democratic lawmaker who attended last Friday’s Democratic Party Legacy Dinner about whether Gov. Kasich would make the right call, the answer delivered with a dose of sarcasm, was, “What do you think?”
Maybe the Ohio Republican Party should buy Gov. Kasich a shrimp cocktail, since he’s mentioned them on several occasions as an expensive treat normally unaffordable but deserved on special occasions. When he joins a dozen or more other Republican presidential aspirants in New Hampshire in a couple weeks for the first GOP candidate rodeo in New Hampshire, he’ll have one fewer bricks to carry along with this veto behind him. Expect this trophy to stand next to his Medicaid expansion trophy.
Dems Applaud Kasich
Democrats also offered their commendation for a bad provision saved from becoming law. Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), who was among statehouse Democrats signing a letter urging Gov. Kasich to line-item veto the controversial sections of HB 53, said the provision line-item vetoed today by the governor had no place in a transportation budget about creating jobs and improving Ohio’s infrastructure.
“I am pleased the Governor listened to the concerns we raised and used his line-item veto to remove anti-voting provisions that should not have been added to the budget in the first place,” Schiavoni, leader of the ten Democrats in the Ohio Senate, said. “College students and military personnel should never face additional financial burdens or risk criminal prosecution simply because they register to vote in Ohio. Thankfully, that will not be the case and Ohio can remain a welcoming place for people who want to move here to live, go to college or serve our country.”
State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) likewise offered her thanks. She commended the governor, saying she tried to remove it in committee but her amendment was tabled by Majority Republicans. “Requiring individuals who register to vote in our state to subsequently pay for a new Ohio driver’s license and vehicle registration within 30 days is an unnecessary financial burden for our state’s college students and active duty military personnel. I am pleased Governor Kasich listened to the concerns raised by the Senate Democratic Caucus in a veto request letter and that the provision was ultimately removed from the budget.”
Kasich Justifies Veto
According to information published on Gov. Kasich’s Website explaining his reasons for issuing three line-item vetoes today, the controversial voting-related provision was not in the public interest, because the “new suspension penalty is inconsistent with current law, and the criteria for residency are already established in existing law.”
Substitute House Bill 53, touted as a $5 billion mega-spending package that will distribute $600 million to local governments for road and bridge work, offer a new contracting process to streamline government and save taxpayer dollars and reform driver training to make Buckeye State roads safer, also contained certain sections that created new penalties for failing to comply with obtaining a valid Ohio driver’s license but did not contain a provision for restoring those driving privileges.
Therefore, he said, “This item is inconsistent with current Ohio law, which articulates specific steps Ohioans can take to have suspended driving privileges restored.”
Kasich For President Has One Fewer Bad Idea To Defend
As Gov. Kasich pursues his dream to be elected president in 2016, had he not vetoed this attempt at voter suppression before venturing off to be part of the first big meet-up of Republican presidential wannabes in New Hampshire in a couple weeks, he would have been playing defense on this issue much like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is now following his enactment of a so-called religious freedom bill that is really a blatant attempt to discriminate against certain individuals by using their religious belief as their defense.
Wanting to portray himself as not a whacko candidate like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz but as a right-of-center manager, who has bucked his party on expanding Medicaid, Gov. Kasich’s smart line-item veto today gives him another prize to show that he’s not a rabid radical from the Tea Party wing of the GOP.