Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What did they know and when did they know it?

With the announcement yesterday by the Strickland Administration that Ohio fell one billion short in tax revenue, we find the Buckeye state in an interesting predicament.

Where in the hell do we get the cash?

But let's back up so it's easy to follow.
  1. A couple months ago when devising their biennial budget and against all logic, the Strickland Administration used the more optimistic tax revenue estimates from Ohio Legislative Service Commission rather than their own more pessimistic State budget office.
  1. Upon completion, the Governor's budget was sent to the Dem-led Ohio House of Representatives for passage. After adding $664 million, the House passed the budget a little less than a week ago.

  2. After being sent to the GOP-led Senate, we conveniently now learn that tax revenues fell almost $1 billion short. This means the Republicans are forced to find cuts equal to that shortfall before sending it back through the process. In other words, when election season comes around next year, Democrats will be able to charge in 30-second commercials that their Republican rival cut $20 million in Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches from the local homeless shelter.
Now, there are two major problems with this.

First, as previously discussed on 3BP, Strickland was acting completely irresponsibly by not using the more realistic numbers to devise his budget.

Second, we are to believe that the Governor and Ohio House had no idea that Ohio tax revenue would be 1 billion less than expected until more than two weeks after tax filing day on April 15th.


As you were devising your budgets you never received any updates whatsoever from the Ohio Department of Taxation that revenue was coming it at a lower rate? We are supposed to believe that the first time you hear about how much money came in from taxpayers was two weeks after April 15th?

Now, I know a good chunk of people wait until the deadline to send in their taxes, but to tell me that no one in State government had any idea that we would bring in a full $1 billion less than expected is beyond belief.

It is my hope that Republicans will subpoena the Ohio Department of Taxation for any and all communication between them and the Ohio House and Governor's office that includes any information about the rate of tax revenue being brought into the state coffers.

Does that seem petty? After all, this is just smart politics for Democrats. It gets them out of a jam, forces Republicans to make the hard decisions, and enables them to use these decisions against the Republicans next November. A win-win-win for the Dems.

But we have to put our foot down somewhere. We can't accept politics over principle. Political gamesmanship is one thing, but to take it to this level where it damages the long-term economic viability of Ohio is beyond the pale.

Let's hope the Ohio Dems and Ted Strickland get called out on it.

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