Governor Kasich promised to make Ohio state government more efficient, which would be part of turning around Ohio and bringing more businesses and private-sector jobs to the state. One way in which Ohio is getting leaner can be seen by the change in state payroll since Kasich took office. It has dropped 8%.
The Kasich administration says Ohio government staff levels have been cut nearly 8 percent since the governor took office in January 2011. Those reductions have been made in a number of state agencies. That is a drop of more than 4,000 positions, with state employment standing at 53,888 at the end of November, according to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
Some of the job cuts have provided major savings and were highlighted by Kasich during a recent year-in-review session with Statehouse reporters. For example, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has saved $27 million through reductions of administrative positions at its operations support center and within prisons and the parole division.
In addition, the Department of Taxation cut payroll by $15 million over the past two years by closing seven regional taxpayer services centers. The Rehabilitation Services Commission also saved $6.5 million by making staff cuts during that period. Four other agencies – Ohio EPA and the departments of Health, Agriculture, and Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services – trimmed their staffs and cut payrolls by a combined $6.7 million.
Kasich’s approach is working. His predecessor, Ted Strickland, left office with the state looking at an $8 billion shortfall. But Kasich’s budget is running a surplus, adding money to the state’s rainy day fund (which Strickland drained), and he did it without raising taxes.
Some conservatives have cited BLS data and claimed that Kasich is growing state government. However, BLS data is based on surveys and only takes a sampling of the entire state. BLS data can be slightly inaccurate. These numbers from the state are actual figures.
His new business friendly approach has delivered results. Ohio businesses have created 127,000 jobs and the state unemployment rate has fallen to 6.8%, still well below the national average.
Democrat Armond Budish still finds room to complain, though. Yes, Budish, the man who led the Ohio House and worked with Ted Strickland to drain the rainy day fund to patch together a band-aid riddled budget that left an $8 billion hole, claims that Kasich’s budget is balanced on the backs of Ohio school children. He isn’t being honest.
State GRF spending on education has actually increased. Look at the bottom lines for GRF education spending and compare state funding compared to federal stimulus.
The biggest hit that education spending in Ohio has taken has been the end of Obama stimulus dollars flowing through state spending. It is disingenuous for Budish to point to higher state education funding provided by one-time federal funds to make his case. But he’s a liberal Democrat, so he does it anyway.
State government in Ohio is providing an example to local government on how to be more efficient stewards of the citizens’ tax dollars, and since nobody wants to see taxes increase, that’s a good thing for all of us.