The state of Ohio is steering straight toward a cliff. At the bottom of that cliff is a hole nearly $8 billion deep.An $8 billion hole?
Ohio leaders have less than a year to throw on the brakes and change course before it's time to draft another two-year state budget. And they will have to do it without federal stimulus dollars and other state nest eggs worth almost $8 billion that were used to prop up the current budget.
How they handle the crisis could make or break the state's economic future, say nervous observers who think it's time to start tackling the issue now.
"It's the biggest issue that we've ever faced in terms of growing our state," said Joe Roman, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
And who was the first one to acknowledge the massive problem?
Republican LG candidate and Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor way back last April when she detailed the frightening fiscal situation.
I'll never forget Strickland's response to Taylor's analysis. But for those that do, here it is:
The governor has refused to concede that spending the one-time money will create an inherent shortfall in the following two-year budget, or that a tax increase might be needed.Truer words have never been spoken.
"Why do you and others want me to say that I'm going to raise taxes?" Strickland said during a March interview. "We're dealing with the budget for 2010 and 2011, and the standard that I'm being held to is, 'How are you going to balance the budget in 2012 and 2013?' It's still 2009. I just don't get it.
Governor, you were elected to make Ohio a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Not to simply make sure a biennial budget was balanced. You just don't get it.
Now several months later Ohio still had its taxes raised, and yet we still don't see one iota of progress, or even acknowledgement of, solving "the biggest issue that we've ever faced in terms of growing our state".
Fortunately with the Plain Dealer article, the mainstream media seems to have begun accepting the upcoming massive budget deficit as fact, rather than a political talking point.
Will Ohioans accept Strickland simply hoping and praying for another government bailout as a solution?
Voters need a leader with backbone, not a begger-in-chief.