Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kasich’s “No Jobs Budget” Hits Home

by Michael O'Brien

The ink was not yet dry on the Governor Kasich's so-called jobs budget when over 90 Ohio state employees were issued layoff notices, the first of many more to come. Locally, the City of Nelsonville, in a story published by the Athens Messenger, stands to lose an estimated $100,000 according to City Auditor Sue Powell.

Many local residents are under the impression that local fire and police services are funded by local tax levies and that these services will not be affected. According the Messenger's report, "Nelsonville does not have any levies that support those services".

Overall, state funding to local governments is expected to fall from its current level of $665 million to $339 million in FY 2013.

Mark Guarino, reporting for the Christian Science Monitor, cited a poll released Monday by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati which shows "53% of Ohioans favor a combination of tax increases and state spending cuts to balance the budget". This compares to 35% who favor solely cuts in state spending.

Progressives and Democrats must ask themselves how far to carry the fight against the Kasich's no jobs budget and Senate Bill 5. This is only the start of a long downhill slide. With Gov. Kasich’s approval rating at only 40% and with a majority of Ohioans favoring a combination of tax increases and spending cuts the Governor will find Ohioans bringing the fight straight to the Statehouse door.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Sadder Spectacle at the Columbus Dispatch

Columbus Dispatch risks becoming irrelevant in labor battle

by Michael O'Brien

Newspapers have a long tradition in American politics of choosing up sides in bitterly fought political struggles and a free press is the backbone of any free society - but there in lies the rub. The Columbus Dispatch editorial board, abandoning all pretense of taking the high road, attacked former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. The Dispatch naively, almost childishly chided the former governor for standing with Ohio workers and their families in the fight to retain basic labor rights. The Dispatch would have us believe that former office holders should “graciously” step aside, even in the face of a concerted effort to strip Ohio workers in both the private and public sectors, of their legal rights to organize and bargain.

The Dispatch seems to feel that once out of office politicians should “seek new avenues where their experience and understanding can make a difference…”. The key word in this statement is new. What “new” issues would the Dispatch suggest the former governor attend to?

Many of the issues facing Strickland during his administration were the same issues faced by virtually every governor in the country, brought on the near collapse of the national economy at the hands of the Republicans and Wall Street in 2008. Ohio’s budgetary woes were further compounded the poison pill pushed through by former Ohio Governor Bob Taft that called for unfunded and unfounded tax cuts.

The inequity in Ohio’s education funding despite, Ohio State Supreme Court decisions, was left to languish by two-term Governor Taft who chose to ignore the Court, dumping the problem in Strickland’s lap. Taft and the Republicans in the statehouse chose to kick the education can down the road. Yes, Taft has remained silent on Ohio’s problems but that makes sense given that, in 2005, Time Magazine named Taft one of the three worst governors in the country, and left office with an 18 percent approval rating.

Having struggled mightily to reform Ohio’s education system Strickland passed a series of reforms that while not perfect put Ohio’s education system on a more sustainable track, legislation that Governor Kasich is intent on overturning.