Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ohio's Unreliable GOP

Despite passage of Senate Bill 5, which requires all teachers to kick the shins of no less than three (3) Democrats daily or be subject to a firing squad, Ohio conservatives should remember where much of the state GOP stands. Being more fiscally responsible than the Democrat alternative is hardly an achievement; we need to do a better job of weeding out Democrat-lite candidates during the primaries.

When the House proposed stronger voter identification rules this spring, Speaker Batchelder et al. took fire from the usual quarters, with the race card played early and often. Secretary of State Jon Husted (R, by Ohio standards) opposed the bill’s photo ID requirement, based on the assumption that it’d take more than a friend’s utility bill and 5 minutes at your computer to forge an AEP statement.

The gentle, moderate legislation passed last week by the Ohio Senate enjoyed effusive praise from Cleveland Democrat Shirley Smith:

“This bill in its current form is oppressive. It is racist. It is discriminatory,” Smith said.

Of course, the House requirement for photo ID was coupled with the guarantee of free cards for indigent Ohioans, but the Senate’s even-less-demanding legislation is still racist. Any bill that requires any likely Democrat voter to put forth even the tiniest effort is “racist,” as far as totally non-racist Democrat senators like Shirley Smith are concerned… yet these are the colleagues Ohio GOP senators feel compelled to please.

As soon as the House budget arrived in the Senate, the Senate began adding water to the original bill’s cuts and reforms. Senators decided the transparently wasteful policy of multiple-prime contracting should be tweaked instead of eliminated. First steps to a merit pay system for public employees are apparently something GOP senators will oppose with the public unions:

What’s more, rigorous performance evaluations in these states are not just in place to help determine which teachers to let go. They also will help identify and reward highly effective teachers and tailor professional development in ways that help improve instruction. Ohio should do the same, and the teacher-evaluation language presented to the Senate achieved just that.

Unfortunately, the Senate has dropped these provisions from its version of the budget, preferring instead to maintain Ohio’s status as a laggard state with archaic laws that force districts to consider only seniority when making layoff decisions.

The budget fight leads to the same question as Senate Bill 5: are voters serious about getting government out of our way? Forget the hitch – the Ohio Democratic Party’s entire wagon is class warfare, leaving the GOP to make a case for smaller, cheaper state government. Though every budget is a biennial tug-of-war, a union victory this November would mean Ohio politicians dare not challenge the unions’ costly influence again.

Voters ought to have a clear choice come referendum time – bow to leftist demands for higher taxes, or support reforms that empower the taxpayer for a change. Mercifully, enough Republican state senators voted for SB 5 to give us the second option!

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero and Columbus Tea Party.


  1. Your assumption, like so many reflexive retrogades, is that governemt is good for just about nothing. Talking of cheaper government means to me that you have little knowledge of how most state agencies operate. If you look at the Dept. of Mental Health, the budget has been so sparse for decades that there are still places in this state that would be hard put to separate themselves from the dingy scenes out of movies they are so ancient and devoid of modern equipment. I think other facilities in Ohio as well would never pass a test on how modern they are and you want to cut more money from their operations?
    That attitude is what really keeps Ohio down and not a state anyone thinks of to head for. I still find clients looking for work who never would think of working for the state when I suggest it because it has such a negative reputation and that is with some 'good days' behind us. Now you want to push us back to every man for himself mentality somemore. Shame---

  2. I'm sure there are state agencies in need of modernized facilities and equipment, anonymous commenter. If it's your opinion that Ohio's government should spend more across the board because there are a few examples of truly worthwhile spending, of course you're welcome to think so.

    I like your "reflexive retrograde" criticism. I'm going to start describing myself that way!

    I'm reflexively retrograde, if that's what it means to support smaller government and reduced taxes. I'll gladly defend smart policy changes to cut spending, however many half-baked statist complaints you toss my way.

  3. There are a few points that anonymous misses:

    First the inflated salaries of the public employees will continue to crowd out other potential expenditures. We can't spend money on, oh say, mental health facilities if we're spending it all on teacher salaries and benefits.

    Next, The entire social welfare system crowds out other spending. We can't pave the roads because medicaid is absorbing too much of the tax receipts. We can't have modernized mental health facilities because we send the money off to poor folks whose biggest health problem is obesity.

    Further, we can't simply increase the reciepts to the state government because the population of the state is in a borderline depression and raising taxes will just drive more people and businesses to Texas.

    But what, exactly, should be the state's role in mental health anyway? Why is it appropriate for the government to even have a dept of mental health?

  4. The election bill doesn't "empower" taxpayers when it makes it harder to vote despite the utter lack of any legitimate reason to do so except to affect elections. The ONLY reason to ban the right of a county Board of Elections from sending out early voting registration materials to every voter is only the Democratic counties were willing to do so.

    They've decreased the time for early voting because... most of the early voters were Democratic votes.

    I don't see how passing a law banning poll workers from directing voters to the right precinct to cast their vote "empowers" taxpayers.


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