The 21-member GOP caucus has offered five votes - enough to pass the plan if all 12 Senate Democrats voted for it - if it includes changes to state construction law and prison sentencing. Democrats have insisted that the budget fix not include other significant policy changes.It's important to note, the changes to state construction law and prison sentencing are supported by Gov. Strickland and presumably Ohio Senate Democrats.
It is only Speaker Budish and the Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives that refuse to accept the compromise.
If the Speaker accepts the compromise, the Governor gets his tax hike and budget solution he's been clamoring for, and Republicans get to save the state a few hundred million dollars in revising programs that even Strickland has shown support for, and the Libraries get their funding. Everyone, except a few construction and labor unions, go home happy.
But rather than pressuring the Ohio House to accept the compromise, it seems the impressively effective Library lobby is going after the Ohio Senate.
Sen. John A. Carey Jr., R-Wellston, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said his office was flooded this weekend with 7,000 e-mails, mostly from library supporters concerned that those facilities could be on the chopping block.Now, after reviewing the Save Ohio Libraries facebook page, and using my own common sense, we can figure out that most of these folks tend to be fairly liberal. The activists promoting action against the GOP Senate are "fans" of Ted Strickland and the like.
That's fine. Do your own thing. Vote Democrat.
But if you really care about your libraries, please recognize that the only person holding this whole mess up is Speaker Budish in the Ohio House.
Republicans have already compromised. A small number of them have aligned with Ohio Senate Democrats to support the tax hike. They only ask a little fiscal responsibility in return.
Now personally do I support what the five Senate Republicans are doing in supporting the tax hike? Absolutely not.
I'd prefer we go through the budget with a red pen and cut out what really is superfluous spending. But realistically speaking, that's not going to happen.
Instead, I hope Republicans hold out until December 18th to see if the anti-slots folks get the signatures necessary to get their issue on the ballot. If they don't, Strickland may be able to install the slots on his own. As the Cincy Enquirer pointed out over the weekend, if Strickland does get his way on slots and the tax hike is passed, Strickland may have $700 million extra in Ohio taxpayer dollars to spend at will. And that shouldn't be how government works.
But I digress.
Supporters of Ohio Libraries, if I were advising you, I'd tell you to refocus your energies on the House and the Governor. The House must relent and the Governor, who supports the requests made by the Senate, has the political power to pressure Budish to accept the deal. You've motivated them into submitting to your will before - you can do it again. The Senate GOP has already made their compromise, it's time for the Ohio House to do the same.