Last month, Governor John Kasich came out in support of a proposed 15-mill levy to fund the Cleveland education reform plan. He promised to provide local leaders with whatever help they needed, and his spokesperson went so far as to say, “If the governor lived in Cleveland he would vote for [the levy].”
But is it just lip service?
Kasich’s track record has been to cut funding and push the burden onto local taxpayers. In his 2011 budget, he cut statewide school funding by $1.3 billion, and districts have been forced to fire teachers, cut programs, and ask local taxpayers to foot the bill.
In Kasich’s home town of Westerville, state support was cut by $6 million in his budget (see our detailed cuts spreadsheet), and after a levy failed in November, the district was left with a $23 million hole. A levy was passed in March, but the effects of the cuts are still being felt by the teachers who lost their jobs, the students who lost access to art, music, sports programs, and the parents who have to pay higher taxes and pay-to-play fees.
By withholding state support, Kasich is jeopardizing the future of millions of young Ohioans who depend on public schools. The Governor’s refusal to use recent budget surpluses to help local schools is a slap in the face to local districts, 34 of which had to ask taxpayers for more money earlier this month in special elections.
Now a Westerville conservative group has placed a levy repeal on the November ballot which could result in the district facing a new $7.4 million deficit.
Will Gov. Kasich stand up for Westerville and support the only school levy on which he can actually vote? Or does he only support school levies in places like Cleveland where he doesn’t live and won’t have to pay? To put it bluntly, does the Governor intend to put his money where his mouth is?