Ohio Gov. John Kasich appears to be the living embodiment of the fictional character at the heart of baseball’s most popular poem, “Casey at the Bat.”
The mighty Casey was so confident of his hitting prowess that he didn’t swing at the first two pitches, both strikes. With runners on third and second, and trailing by two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Casey went down swinging, sending the Mudville Nine home losers.
John Kasich isn’t known for his baseball skills, but he thinks he’s the best politico in the world. He knows well just how bad he got beat last year when he ran for president. His new book is based on that expensive experiment, the second such campaign for the White House he’s undertaken since he first tried and lost in 2000. But Mr. Kasich is also well know for sticking to his guns, even though his ammo is shot and his aim is terrible.
The news from Ohio, more than six years into his governorship, is that state revenues are down, way down, jobs creation is down, way down, and his last two year budget is being dismembered by a General Assembly run by conservative Republicans who should be, but aren’t, sold on the great reformers reforms.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is complaining that Kasich’s budget will cost his city millions. The governor’s transportation budget is coming under fire for not funding public transportation enough. Education groups continue to not be in love with his funding plan for them.
The state’s tax revenue overall is $412 million below estimates, the AP reports. Ohio’s state income tax revenue over the past few months is below estimates, with overall tax revenue down for the fiscal year by nearly 3 percent. Ohio’s unemployment rate, now at 5 percent, is ticking up as discouraged workers exit the workforce.
Ohio collected about $280 million in February income taxes, representing a short fall from estimates of 27.5 percent. All this revenue not coming in means total income tax collections for the fiscal year will be $352 million less than expected, which means there will be a 5 percent shortfall from the same period last year.
As Plunderbund has reported, Ohio’s term-limited governor hasn’t been able to meet or exceed the national job creation average for 48 out of the last 49 months. Then there is JobsOhio, the lame-duck governor’s pet project to spur job growth. JobsOhio reported in early March that it had a down year in 2016, creating its fewest number of jobs since 2013.
But there is good news, even though it produced less, it increased salaries and benefits $1.9 million, or 23 percent, to $8.2 million as 11 employees were added to increase the total number of agency employees to 73. The AP reported that JobsOhio has $441 million in cash and investments on hand, an increase of $108 million over 2015. Critics want that money used to create more jobs.
With Kasich exiting the state stage in two years after his second term ends, the sad state of the state is fair fodder some candidates who want to be governor. One of them, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, said, “After seven years of Republican control, we still don’t have the high-paying jobs that places like Youngstown, Toledo and the Ohio Valley so desperately need.”
Ohio’s roads and bridges are falling apart, he said, adding that the public education system under the Kasich administration is poorly funded. Mr. Kasich has chosen to turn a blind eye to the wasteful spending of billions and billions on a failing system of for-profit charter schools, which in few cases perform worse than the worst public school.
And how can Gov. Kasich’s ideological obsession with cutting income taxes be overlooked? He boasted on the presidential campaign trail that his $5-plus billion in tax giveaways to the wealthiest was the most any state had undertaken.
His theory of economics, nurtured from his earliest days as a Reagan supply-side congressman, is that tax cuts create jobs and more revenue. John Kasich has shown in real time how false his belief is in fanciful economics that are now coming home to roost in his home state.
With all his tax cutting, he knows exactly how much worse the state of the state will be if his fellow Republicans in Washington fiddle with Medicaid, the federal-state program for the elderly, disabled and poor.
If Washington zaps Medicaid money flowing to states, as the new American Health Care Act would do, Mr. Kasich faces a budget hole in the billions. And since raising taxes on the wealthiest, who can pay multiples more and still be rich beyond any regular persons’ dreams, he’ll be in a real pickle.
Kasich has found it politically handy to complain about how broken Ohio was when he took over after he beat Gov. Ted Strickland. What he took over, in fact, was a state roaring back from the Great Recession, that was delivering jobs and revenue after careless and unwise banking practices swirled the nation down the drain.
Gov. Kasich, who helped that downward swirl when he worked as a Wall Street banker for Lehman Brothers, appears to have learned nothing for those days of disaster.
So has John Kasich at the bat been good for Ohio? Anyone looking critically at the numbers he’s put on the scoreboard can see he’s a poor hitter who can’t advance the runners, just like the mighty Casey.