Important facts were learned Thursday that challenge Gov. John Kasich’s carefully crafted promise from last year’s reelection campaign that “the best is yet to come” and that he’s “lifting everyone up, no matter their circumstances.”
Those promises clearly qualify as famous-last-words, as new reports debunk Camp Kasich’s rhetoric for five years so far that he’s the good-times Messiah he claims to be. For all Gov. Kasich’s rhetoric to be innovative and creative, his backward policy ideas have done little to lift up low-income workers, even though his much-touted income tax cuts have lifted up Ohio’s wealthiest to new heights.
The Ohio miracle Gov. Kasich was so fond of talking about not too long ago seems to be mostly mirage.
The Best Isn’t Here Yet
According to new data, stagnant incomes and an increase in poverty across much of Ohio for the past five years are the new norm for Camp Kasich. Assembled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the hard to refute data reveals that the percentage of people living in poverty increased in 52 of the 88 counties, as compared to the previous five year period. Incomes saw little gain overall, except for two counties where median household incomes rose, compared to going down or being the same in 54 counties. Child poverty rates, maybe the most harmful, are at their highest in years at 22 percent.
Creating jobs for those Ohioans who need them continues to be too slow, according to one of Ohio’s leading independent job-number crunches. George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economic analyst. Mr. Zeller offered information today showing 10,208 new unemployment claims were registered for the first week of December 2015. Zeller notes that the unfavorable Ohio data are “clearly worse than the mixed but largely favorable data released this week at the national level for the USA by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.” While the national data on new unemployment claims are still favorable, Zeller observes, that’s stands in “contrast to the now clearly unfavorable updated data released for Ohio today.”
“The speed of Ohio’s recovery has previously been continuously too slow,” Zeller says, adding, “Through October 2015 Ohio currently has a streak of thirty-six consecutive months with Ohio’s job growth rate below the USA national average.” Today’s release of new unemployment claims “is a potentially unfavorable leading indicator in advance of new Ohio job data for November 2015 scheduled for release on December 18 that will measure whether Ohio’s continually below average recovery is finally improving to national norms.”
It’s a fact recognized by some that former Gov. Ted Strickland left John Kasich with a rising tide of jobs and a job creation rate that had a solid track record of out performing the national average. The Buckeye State economy stalled under Kasich, who admitted as much on NBC’s Sunday show “Meet the Press.” Stumping in New Hampshire, Gov. Kasich touts his work in Washington over 18 years in the House of Representatives more than he does his more recent track record in Ohio. And while he brags about creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, Ohio ranks 29th in job creation according to the reliable W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and still remains 45,000 jobs short of returning to pre-“Great Recession” levels.
A more sobering statistic is that Ohio still remains 241,200 jobs short of the jobs that it has lost since the 2000-2002 national recession more than a decade ago. Also not discussed is the reality that a lot of those jobs the governor loves to crow about are at or near minimum wage.
Kasich ‘Reset’ For Renewable Energy Resets Weatherization Funds
Another Kasich policy is starting to take a bite out of the hide of more low-income Ohioans who have now had help from utilities for home weatherization severely cut. After stunning success under Democratic Gov. Strickland to produce a bi-partisan renewable energy portfolio that put Ohio in the vanguard of states looking toward the future, Gov. Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 that freezes progress made under Strickland for two years, until the super-majority GOP legislatures that accommodates Mr. Kasich on a variety of issues a report did so again with Ohio’s energy future.
A part of that “reset,” as John Kasich called bringing Ohio’s progress in renewable energy to a standstill last year, included utility companies defunding programs to help low-income customers with home weatherization efforts.
American Electric Power, one of the nation’s biggest electric-generating utilities that calls Columbus home, took advantage of a provision in the law that Gov. Kasich signed that lets it cut it’s weatherize help fund from $12 million to $6.7 million, a drop off that consumer advocates and environmentalists complained about. Ohio once had a formidable Consumers’ Counsel, but Gov. Kasich and his GOP lawmaker allies have whittled that consumer-oriented agency down to embarrassing, non-effective levels.
Once Mr. Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 last year, the bill that froze Ohio’s renewable portfolio standards, it was a matter of time before other retrenchments were undertaken. The bill lets utilities decide whether to put initiatives like weatherization programs on hold. AEP said it has not publicized the change, one news source reported.
Meanwhile, voters in New Hampshire who are seeing and hearing Ohio’s governor for the first time have no clue that his recipe for success has not been successful in Ohio and are likely to not be successful in their state or the nation.
“I know what the formula is: cut taxes, you restrain the government, you don’t let the regulators put you out of business and you grow jobs,” Kasich said, The Keene Sentinel reported. “That’s what you have to do, you can’t play games and you don’t answer to anybody other than the people who you want to accomplish good things for them.”