Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2010 and the Budget

Yesterday's papers reported two stories that lay out much of the discussion for next year's gubernatorial election. In the first, social service advocates and providers and union officials are expressing dissatisfaction with the Strickland administration (from the Dispatch).

    Some of the Democratic governor's staunchest supporters, particularly leaders of social-service agencies, said their view of Strickland has been altered by the two-year, $50.5 billion budget he signed into law July 17. They concede that their enthusiasm for his re-election has waned.
Which is a worry in the sense that these folks may not go all out in the next election. It's unlikely any of these core constituencies will defect to Kasich. And he's not exactly throwing open the flaps of a big tent:
    Kasich said he has a record during his 18 years in Congress of being willing to work with advocates. But he also warned that Ohio needs major reforms, including in the social services.

    "We can't let people who are vulnerable end up in the ditch," he said. "But I also have to tell you that we face a crisis, and we're going to have to stabilize things and there'll be nobody that is going to be a favored son."
This is less a play for those constituencies than reassuring the Republican base. Translation: You can vote for me and maybe not be completely shut out of the process, but remember that I'll answer to my actual business/social conservative/small government ideologue constituencies first and foremost.

And what does that base want? That brings us to the second story. House Republicans spent yesterday rolling out their version of an economic development package (from the PD).
    The Republicans offered up bills that would establish new tax credits, create a low-interest loan program for small businesses, allow local governments to put ballot issues up that would chop estate taxes and track exactly why exiting businesses are leaving Ohio.

    But Republicans were short on details, refusing to offer a ballpark estimate for the cost of their tax credit packages. House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder, a Medina Republican, said in an interview that most of the tax credits would pay for themselves through job creation. He also said a government reorganization plan touted by Republicans could fund the initiatives.
We have heard this before. In 2005 the General Assembly overhauled the tax code, scrapping the business personal property tax, replacing the mess of a business franchise tax with a dubious but undeniably simpler Commercial Activities Tax and setting down a schedule of personal income tax cuts. And they said that this would solve all of Ohio's economic problems. And would pay for itself with all the growth it would generate.

Kasich's vague mention of "reforms" on the spending side offers help if you ignore the vagueness. It's true that Strickland has disappointingly wasted the budget crisis. He could have used it as an impetus to push through some much needed reforms and didn't. But those battles are tough on either side, and it's unlikely the Republicans would be willing or able to institute reforms now that they didn't accomplish during their decade plus of hegemony.

And this is the dilemma facing Kasich. The dissatisfaction directed at the Governor is real. But the only policies his party would allow would only deepen that dissatisfaction.


Wayne In Akron said...

Let's not lose focus on one undeniable fact...

There is NO substantial $$$ in the budget for anything if there aren't any jobs for Ohio's residents.

If you aren't creating (private sector) employment, there isn't much of a chance that Ohio's situation will improve.