The Columbus Dispatch reports:
Gov. John Kasich said the GOP-controlled Ohio Senate’s likely approval today of a two-year, $55.7 billion budget is “historic,” although its version differs from the budget Kasich proposed and the bill the House passed last month.
“We will go to conference committee, but I don’t anticipate any major problems in there,” Kasich said following his address to those attending the American Institute of Architects Ohio Legislative Day at the Statehouse.
“We’re all on the same wavelength,” Kasich said. “There are some things that will have to be worked out, but nobody would’ve thought we were going to balance this budget, and cut taxes, and eliminate this structural deficit, and we are about to do it through the Senate today.”
The pressure on GOP governors, whether in New Jersey, Virginia or Ohio, is to raise taxes to avoid “draconian cuts” or to prevent services from being “slashed.” But as Gov. Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell did, Kasich got his budget with no tax hike. Kasich remarked: “It sends a message really to the rest of the country and I think it also sends an important message to Washington. Face up to your challenges. Face up to them. Don’t play politics.”
Kasich, never one to lack enthusiasm, savored the moment, telling the Ohio Architects:
“50 years from now, people will look back and want to know how did [Senate Finance Committee Chairman] Widener and how did [House Finance Chairman] Amstutz do this? How did they wipe out this big deficit? And not only just wipe it out. It eliminates a structural problem that has been dogging this state and is on the radar screen of the rating agencies in New York. But they also maintain a tax cut and cut other taxes to keep people in Ohio. Do not miss when things like this happen. This is a big, big deal.”
In November 2012, President Obama will campaign in Ohio and other key states, no doubt blaming “radicals” in Congress and the “poisonous atmosphere” inside the Beltway. But as Ohio’s governor and other governors around the country make tough bargains, resist the urge to raise taxes and balance their books, voters might begin to wonder why Obama is so much less effective than their own chief executives.
It’s a good question, actually. Maybe it has something to do with the states’ inability to print money and their legal obligation to balance their budgets. Or maybe it is a matter of vision and will. Kasich refused to raise taxes; tax hikes are Obama’s first resort. Kasich is willing to reorganize and privatize chunks of government; Obama keep adding to the federal bureaucracy. It’s not surprising, then, that the results in Ohio are dramatically different than those in D.C.