Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Say what you will about our Governor. He lacks neither vision nor courage, and right now, the economic situation in our State desperately needs both. In his State of the State address, and in the SFY 2010-2011 budget, he is trying to satisfy three mutually exclusive priorities: maintain existing services as much as possible, prepare Ohio's educational system to become a world leader within eight years, and still not increase taxes in a state that has the 7th highest tax burden in the United States.
Even on a conceptual level, this is hard to do. Most of the criticism I have heard of the budget basically states that Ohio needs to put off one of the three. Republicans are saying that the budget is unsustainable because it depends on one-time revenue. And they're right, it is not a wise practice to begin ongoing programs on the basis of a temporary revenue stream.
The State employee unions are naturally upset that part of the Governor's balancing strategy is to expect State employees to cut their own salaries up to 6%. As a State employee, I'm not wild about the idea myself, but I'd rather be paid something than be put out of work; or see massive layoffs of my fellow State employees.
Finally, to increase taxes only makes Ohio even less attractive to new business than it is now. Raising taxes will only lengthen the recession our State has been experiencing. Likewise, a massive upgrading of our schools into a seamless "P-16" (pre-school through college) system is an essential component of any strategy that will keep Ohio in line for future growth. We are paying now for our past disregard of education, especially higher education.
The choices in this budget are tough ones. We should be thankful for a Governor who can have the vision to make them; and we should demand the same of our legislators.