Back in New Hampshire for two days of campaigning,  Gov. John Kasich says he’ll talk to voters in the early primary state on Thursday and Friday, the AP reported.

It’s a safe bet that Ohio’s governor won’t be spending any time in Exeter or Hudson or Laconia—three stops where he’ll tout his Washington resume, executive experience as governor and his plan to dismember federal agencies and send their funding back to states—talking about the devastation his budget plan will bring to America if actually put in place or the “pay-to-stay” prison scandal a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] Ohio documents running rampant in the Buckeye State.

The term-limited governor constantly reminds us that he’s been a reformer and innovator over his nearly 40 years as a professional performance politician, which has turned him into a very rich man, according to financial disclosures that show he’s worth as much as $22 million dollars. Not bad for the son of a Democratic government worker who today would get little support from Mr. Kasich and his Reagan-era policies that favor corporate power over worker power.

Kasich’s father, a mailman, might not like his hard-right son trying to gut the collective bargaining power of public sector union workers including federal postal workers. But that’s exactly what the former Lehman Brothers banker tried to do in 2011, when he signed Senate Bill 5 into law then put his people and resources behind keeping it law. His mailman father would have probably voted against it, just like other workers in Ohio did when they overruled Kasich’s crusade to harm workers from being able to negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions by referendum two to one.

Kasich’s Bad Plan To Balance Federral Budget

What would John Kasich’s plan to balance the federal budget in eight years look like? No need to wonder, because he outlined it on stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this past Tuesday.

“We would move the Medicare system from a 7 percent growth down to about a 5 percent growth,” he said. “I have a whole series of ways to do that. In Ohio, we reduced Medicaid funding for the poor from 10 percent to 2.5 percent, didn’t cut one benefit or didn’t take anybody off the rolls. Why? Because we’re innovators. I’ve been an innovator my entire career. And I really don’t care what special interests or lobbyists have to say. I have a job to do when I take over a public office. Now, we freeze non-defense discretionary for eight years. We also put an increase in defense spending. Our tax cuts balance out. And at the end of the day, we will get to a balanced budget.”

Political blogger Kevin Drum summed up Kasich plan this way. “So here is Kasich’s plan: cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut domestic discretionary spending, and increase defense spending. And we already know he wants to cut Social Security. So his plan is to cut every single aspect of domestic spending and increase defense spending. And this guy is the moderate in the field.”

Ohio’s Pay-To-Stay Prison Scandal

In a new report out Thursday by the ACLU Ohio, pay-to-stay jail fees are the next generation of unending debts that seek to tether low-income people to the criminal justice system. “These fees are charged against people simply because they are in jail,” the report said, noting, “They are a ‘non-criminal fee,’ meaning that a person cannot be incarcerated for failure to pay them. However, in practice, they operate with little difference from a modern-day debtors’ prison.”

Gov. Kasich has made helping people “living in the shadows” a campaign mantra. But he’s clearly been a contributing hand in expanding the reach of shadows over low-income people who find themselves behind bars. Pay-to-stay debts create insurmountable barriers for those trying to put their lives back together post-incarceration, the report shows. One student from Geauga County highlighted in the ACLU report is struggling to get by after being charged $2000 in pay-to-stay fees.

“I went into jail broke. I was already broke going in there. I kind of had my stuff together. I didn’t have a lot of debt. I had been working my part time job and going to school. I was getting by. But everything just spiraled out of control,” according to one testimonial from the report. “I have freedom now, but I still don’t have freedom because I’ve got them holding on to me, you know, here, you still owe us this money.”

The report identifies some of Ohio’s worst offending jailing programs. Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Williams County charges a $100 booking fee and $66.09 per day. The Multi-County Correction Center charges a $100.00 processing fee and a $50.00 daily fee. Guernsey County charges a $100.00 booking fee and $50.00 per day. Indigence is not taken into account and collections are done by Intellitech. Geauga County charges a daily fee, totaling up to $66.86 per day, but does determine the amount on a sliding scale based on the person’s income.

Gov. Kasich is the only governor to sell a state prison to a private prison company. His director of state incarceration was found in the private prison industry. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association represents 10,000 prison employees, and the union’s leaders said at the time that running safe, secure prisons is a responsibility for government, not profit-driven companies, Bloomberg News reported.

The report concludes, “Many in Ohio are turning away from outdated and dangerous “tough on crime” policies that punish people to the detriment of our communities. Leaders are increasingly seeking new ways to reduce mass incarceration and support policies that will promote redemption and rehabilitation. Ending pay-to-stay jail fees will go a long way in doing that.”

You’d think that someone who constantly talks about innovation would be innovative enough to stop this terrible practice that works to increase the number of people “living in the shadows” from bad policy concocted by a hard-right governor and his hard-right legislature.

 

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