Governor John Kasich spent the past few weeks playing at running for president, jetting around the country and selling himself as someone who can bring people and parties together to solve all of our nation’s problems.

Kasich loves to play at being a cross-the-aisle uniter, nearly as much as he loves hearing himself speak, but his story, targeted at an uninformed national audience,  aims to hide the embarrassing truth about the deep divisiveness playing out here in Ohio as the Republican-controlled legislature continues to chart its own course in response to Kasich’s budget proposal- the most expensive in state history.

Last week the Ohio House of Representatives passed a highly-altered version of the governor’s behemoth, $72.3 billion bill.   Shortly after House Speaker Cliff Rosenberg hosed down Kasich’s executive plan, the Ohio Senate followed suit – in spades – deciding the Governor’s budget plan was so flawed and unworkable that they needed to start the whole budgeting process over from scratch.

John Kasich: The Biggest Status Quo Special Interest Of All

The Columbus Dispatch offered another weak and whiny editorial Sunday about how bad it will be for Ohio if the Republicans controlling the General Assembly abandon Gov. John Kasich’s latest, record-breaking, $72 billion budget proposal that wrongly continues his shameless shift in taxes from income to consumption.

Earlier this year, Ohio House Republicans were slapped around by Dispatch editors as they again showed how totally in-the-tank they are for the governor.  In an editorial critical of lawmakers for rejecting Gov. Kasich’s tax hikes, the proceeds of which would be given away to the wealthiest Ohioans while 60 percent of ordinary tax filers experienced tax increases, the paper accused lawmakers of not understanding or appreciating the governor’s overarching vision.

Calling on the Ohio Senate to avoid trashing his budget as the House did, the Dispatch editorial page calls Kasich’s tax-shifting plan (which favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class and poor) the kind of “tax reform” Ohio needs.

The masters at 34 South Third Street still promote Gov. Kasich’s well-crafted narrative that he alone pulled Ohio out of an $8 billion budget hole by launching an economic rebound while conveniently ignoring the fact that the turnaround started under former Gov. Ted Strickland, who actually cut budgets and spending with the help of Ohio’s public-sector unions.

It was on Strickland’s watch that the Great Recession hit and was tamed.  His smart management moves saved Ohio’s economy from a far worse fate. When John Kasich was elected governor in 2010, he became captain of a ship of state rising on the tide of turnaround from Gov. Strickland. This is fact, not Kasichlore.

The Dispatch also chides Ohio House budgeteers for using their own estimates when they determined the estimates from the Kasich Administration could not be trusted. Like the loyal adjunct PR department they are, they quoted Mr. Kasich’s press secretary saying, “Restrained, responsible budgeting has helped get Ohio back on track … After the fiscal crisis subsides, people think it’s OK to slip back to old habits. The governor will do everything possible to prevent that from happening.”

The House budget gives more money to schools, a bad thing in the eyes of Gov. Kasich and the Dispatch. “Another old habit the House budget continues is distorted school funding, by artificially cushioning districts from any drop in revenue, even when a reduction would be justified and fair,” it said.   It seems the Dispatch is just fine with Kasich essentially stealing big bucks from local governments and schools.

“Kasich’s budget would have begun phasing out the guarantee and ending payments to make up for the tangible-personal-property tax which was eliminated years ago. But the House budget proposal maintains the status quo by raiding a Medicaid reserve fund to help pay for $102 million in unwarranted cushioning for schools,” it wrote.

Shorter Dispatch: How dare the Ohio House pass a budget that cuts $750 Million in state spending from Kasich’s proposed budget while adding $102 MILLION DOLLARS back into the coffers of Ohio’s schools.

Under Kasich, state spending has increased by billions, hitting all-time highs. Funding for schools and local governments has continued to faulter.  And the tax burden on Ohioans continues to be shifted downward.

It’s abundantly clear that Kasich is not a tax cutter or a budget reducer or a small government conservative.   Nor is he a true defender of the “people in the shadows.” Instead he’s embracing a deceptive and deceitful new tax-shifting shell game .

And pretending that he isn’t shows just how far the Dispatch’s journalistic integrity has fallen.