Last month, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger stood alongside Governor John Kasich and Senate President Larry Obhof in what they wanted the public to believe was a united front that would address the disgraceful state of Ohio’s finances under their leadership.
In fiscal year 2017, the state is already $615 million short as tax revenues have come in below Kasich administration projections for eight of the last nine months. Last month, these leaders jointly announced that the proposed budget for 2018-2019, introduced in January and passed today by the House, is already so significantly out of balance they needed to break the news immediately. They then agreed to reduce spending $800 million over the next two fiscal years, promising to work together to pass a budget that was balanced at every step of the process:
“It is important that we are together as a team. At the end of the day, this team is not going to drop the ball…” [at 0:04]
“I’m committed to work with the Administration and the President to make sure we have a balanced budget that will pass out of the House, a balanced budget that will pass out of the Senate…” [at 1:21]
“One, we’ve got teamwork and cooperation up here. And two, we’re all committed to making sure that at every step of the process the budget is something that is fiscally responsible and structurally balanced and sound.” [at 1:42]
Kasich Budget Director Tim Keen:
“All these things, we have to take into account, we have to get ahead of. We have to make sure we make the appropriate adjustments. This is not something that the leaders have determined we can wait until the conference committee to address. This is why we’re here today – to commit to work together to start to address this issue and ensure we have a balanced budget that is structurally balanced.” [at 4:10]
Now, instead of fixing the problems they’ve created with bad tax-shifting policies, the House Republicans have passed an unbalanced, fiscally irresponsible budget. By President Obhof’s own characterization, the House budget leaves “several hundred million dollars […] potentially more than that, open.” In fact, the House budget could not, by law, be enacted–because it is not balanced, according to the numbers they released at their press conference.
This budget is full of promises–more money for the addiction crisis, more money for schools, relief from state intrusion on local control–but no one should feel secure those promises are real if there are $200 million or more in unspecified cuts yet to come.
Unfortunately, this is the story of the Republican budget process this year: fiscal irresponsibility and intellectual dishonesty. There are ways to support public education, health care, the environment, local communities and shared economic prosperity without the Republican slash-and-burn approach–but Republicans have fallen down on the job, while also failing to responsibly address the budget hole they themselves have created.