March 7, 2009


Governor's doubters grow as outlook worsens (JOE HALLETT and MARK NIQUETTE, 3/07/09, Columbus Dispatch)

After two years of smooth sailing, a disastrous economy has put a strain on state finances and Strickland himself. As the governor travels about seeking support for his plan to transform Ohio's education system, Republicans and independent observers say Strickland is risking his credibility by not being forthright about a state budget they equate to a house of cards, ready to collapse in little more than two years.

Even worse is the perception that the administration has fudged budget projections and misled lawmakers.

"Without question, this is going to damage the governor's credibility, and without question it's unprecedented," said House Minority Leader William G. Batchelder of Medina. [...]

The criticism has exposed Strickland's combative side. He was testy in the interview, especially when asked about an Akron Beacon Journal column questioning fuzzy math in Strickland's education-funding plan.

"I really don't give a damn what the Akron Beacon Journal says about me in an editorial or, quite frankly, The Columbus Dispatch," Strickland said. "That's not what keeps me awake at night. What keeps me awake at night is trying to do the right thing in the midst of difficult circumstances for the people of the state of Ohio."

Some of the most stinging criticism of Strickland's proposed two-year, $54.4 billion budget involves his use of so-called "one-time" money. He wants to spend more than $5 billion in federal stimulus funds, drain the state's $948million rainy-day fund and make nearly $1 billion in other short-term cash moves.

While these actions will help balance the two-year budget that takes effect July 1, critics say that it will be virtually impossible to sustain the spending in the budget that will follow Strickland's expected 2010 re-election campaign - meaning draconian spending cuts or a huge tax increase could be necessary later.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2009 9:33 PM
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