Many doubted it could be done. The promise I'm referring to, of course, is balancing Ohio's biennial budget, without raising taxes. In fact, an income tax cut was preserved, after being delayed by the last administration.
Governor Kasish started the process with Ohio being $8 billion in the hole. That's what the outgoing Ted Strickland administration left us with. Faced with growing expenditures, but relatively flat revenue due to essentially no population growth, the previous administration refused to restructure their last budget to reflect the economic reality.
They robbed from various funds, and took billions in federal handouts, and then patted themselves on the back for it. They refused to address the underlying problem, which was the huge difference between the state's revenues and it's spending. They chose the easy path and avoided making the hard, but necessary choices to reset Ohio's budget to one of sustainability.
Our new budget reflects reality and establishes a new, sustainable, baseline going forward, so that taxes in Ohio, already among the nation's highest, won't have to be raised. Raising taxes would only make Ohio even more uncompetitive with other states when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses, causing even further job loss.
There are some painful cuts to education spending and local governments. Cuts across most departments were necessary. But there are also a number of significant reforms as part of this budget, not just cuts. Reforms that will make Ohio state government more efficient in the services it performs.
Reforms like getting rid of the multiple-prime system for bidding public constuction projects like schools and university buildings. Ohio was the the last remaining state using such an outdated form of contracting for public buildings. This will save around 10% on future building costs.
The grownups are back in charge. They did what was necessary for Ohio taxpayers. They might not be popular for it. Nobody likes cuts, and nobody likes to make cuts. But they had a job to do, and they did it. And they did it the responsible way.
The Columbus Dispatch agrees:
Kasich and this legislature came into office in January facing a disaster: an $8 billion deficit left by former Gov. Ted Strickland and lawmakers who failed to put the state on a sustainable fiscal basis by matching spending with revenue. Instead, they kicked the problem down the road, using federal stimulus money to paper over the problem.
Putting the state back on a sound fiscal foundation, with the tools to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Ohio's left and the Democrats will continue to squeal about this budget, and about the cuts they should have made but papered over with Obama money instead. And I'll say to them what I've been saying all along.
Ted Strickland, Armond Budish, Chris Refern and the like: You knew Ohio had a major multi-billion dollar deficit. You had your chance to address it the right way and make the responsible, albeit difficult choices.
You. CHOSE. Not to. Your petty sniping now is nothing more than sour grapes.
Ohio is on a path to a better financial future, due to this governor's leadership. Check out this video that highlights some of the difficulties and Governor Kasich's comments during the budget process.
So, congratulations to Governor Kasich and the Ohio House and Senate for taking the disasterous situation that was left to you, cleaning up the mess, and doing what was right.
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