Look, it’s not often that an author of this site actually writes that a conservative/libertarian think tank is factually correct on matters of Ohio policy, so print this out, laminate it, and frame this post because I’m not going to say this often: The CATO Institute said something factually accurate about Governor John Kasich’s record in Ohio. Of course, the Kasich Administration is flipping out about it with spin and misleading claims about Ohio’s budget.
You see, the CATO Institute recently pointed out that while Governor Kasich has been touting himself as a fiscal conservative, the reality is that state spending in Ohio has actually gone up quite considerable under him (thanks to charter schools.) The Kasich Administration cried foul and said that if you look at Ohio’s increase in All Funds spending as opposed to General Revenue Funds (GRF), Ohio looks super duper awesome. The only problem is no Ohio governor spending record has ever been evaluated with using anything other than the GRF numbers because the All Funds numbers includes federal spending that is sent to the states as basically “pass through” spending. Since Governors have no control over federal spending, it makes little sense to use the All Funds number because it creates a misleading picture.
So yesterday, the CATO Institute wrote a strongly worded blog post saying Kasich’s just that. Then they go a little further and try to include spending to cover Medicaid expansion, even though that it is still entirely funded by the federal government. There is where the CATO Institute weakens it case against Kasich’s argument to use the All Funds number instead. But if you look at the GRF, you see state spending under Kasich has gone up a cumulative 12% since Kasich took office.
And this isn’t exactly ground shattering news to Team Kasich, although it is being pointed out at a politically inconvenient time for them. After all, earlier this year, the Columbus Dispatch reported that the State was approaching, for the first time since the legislature created them in 2006, caps on increases in spending as it began debating the most recent State budget:
When Gov. John Kasich introduced his first two-year budget in 2011, it was more than $1.1 billion per year below the spending cap. But Kasich’s latest budget is just $322 million below the cap in 2016, and $223 million in 2017.
But that’s not the only criticism of Kasich and his fiscal stewardship of Ohio. Despite having a balanced budget amendment in Ohio, Ohio’s debt load has exploded under Governor Kasich with half a billion in new GRF debt service payments accrued under his watch and counting, a roughly 69% increase from FY ’11 under Governor Strickland, who actually cut the State’s debt payments by 30%, even while managing a state budget during a major international recession. Our state debt load has increased by nearly $358 million on Kasich’s watch. Despite historic low interest rates, Ohio has never paid more in debt services than it is right now under Governor Kasich:
But even ignoring the debt side of Kasich’s record, the CATO Institute was able to point out one other major fallacy in Kasich’s budget defense:
Kasich is campaigning on a promise to cut federal spending and balance the federal budget. Under those promises, federal aid to states would decrease. If this was currently the case, Kasich’s record would look worse.
Indeed, Kasich is actually touring the country talking about his budgetary prowess in cutting taxes for the rich while caring for the poor by expanding Medicaid all while growing the rainy day fund as an argument why the federal government can balance its budgets. But his record whistles past that Medicaid expansion is entirely paid for by the federal government for now, his tax cuts are paid for by tax shifts on to the middle and lower classes, and his spending has largely increased as his flushed more and more money into a scandalously failing charter school system.
So, yeah, let’s have a debate. Game on.