Monday, September 21, 2009

Slots, the budget, and starting over...

Ted Strickland's 6-1 loss today in the Supreme Court deals a massive blow to the Governor.


As we all know by now, Strickland's fear of doing what's necessary for the greater good forced him to abandon whatever principles he had left and advocate using slot machines to balance the state budget.

Back when this was first proposed we not only were shocked that the Governor so blatantly went back on his word, but also at the Governor's belief that this gamble would payoff. [pun intended]

Not only were Strickland's revenue projections iffy, but his dogged defense of how slots would be implemented without voter approval seemed downright odd.

And with the Ohio Supreme Court voting nearly unanimously in favor of a voter referendum, those concerns were proved valid.

So, now what? According to the Dispatch:
It is too late to place an issue on the fall ballot, so the earliest a referendum could be held is May - the month that the state said 80 percent of the expected 17,500 slots must be operational to meet projections of raising $933 million from the slots for the two-year-budget that ends June 30, 2011.
In other words, Ohio needs cash.

The most recent Quinnipiac poll shows favorable conditions for voter approval, but we all know it's entirely too early to assume success at the ballot box. Even with approval, Ohio will be far behind in its efforts to raise revenue.

The question now will be whether Strickland is the kind of Governor that prepares for the worst or the best scenario. A responsible statesman would sit down today with legislative leadership and start finding ways to save/collect the $933 million needed to balance the budget, without any assumption about whether any referendum will pass in eight months.

Ohio's budget simply doesn't have the kind of time to do what the Governor has done since he came into office, namely twiddle its thumbs and hope it all works out.

Does he gut more programs? Does he do what he's been doing everything to avoid - raise taxes?

It's almost as if Strickland has a second chance.

And Ohio will be watching.

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