One of my favorite end-of-year pieces from Ohio media came from Dennis Willard at the Akron Beacon Journal.
He highlighted Ohio’s worst decisions of 2009. Ohio’s very own Governor secured two of them.
Strickland doesn’t come up with the money
Ted Strickland proudly unveiled his promising ”evidence based model” for funding public schools. He expressed no small sense of urgency, as in: Ohio better to do this, or else. Then, the details started to fray. Wealthier districts prospered at the expense of poorer districts. Teacher salaries were miscalculated. Stephen Dyer and others in the Ohio House repaired many of the shortcomings. They did not overcome the glaring flaw: For all the talk about needing to act quickly, the governor and his allies put off full implementation for a decade or more. To be sure, the tough economy partly drove the frustrating result. Yet Strickland balked even at finding the resources to make a strong start. Thus, a student now in the first grade won’t see the complete change until sometime in high school, or long after this governor has exited the office.
Lest we forget Ted Strickland’s own words, “I said that if [education funding] were not dealt with, regardless of whatever positive things I may achieve as governor, then I will consider myself a failure.”
And the other big winner(read: loser)…
Strickland flip-flops over slots
Even Ted Strickland admits that he erred in choosing to rely on revenue from electronic slot machines at horse racetracks to balance the state budget. The governor called the decision his biggest mistake of the year. He flip-flopped in doing so, having opposed such a step in the past. He didn’t anticipate the subsequent legal challenges. In the end, the money wasn’t readily available, and still isn’t. Thus, the governor opted for another course, the one he should have taken from the outset, postponing the fifth and final installment of the 21 percent reduction in individual income tax rates.
More, the decision to chase the slots money all but removed the governor from the debate over the proposed statewide ballot issue to bring casino gambling to Ohio. His voice in opposition was missed. The measure, written by and for the casino operators and fueled with their ample campaign money, won passage in November.