It looks like at least a few Ohio Democrats are ready to acknowledge there is a massive $8 billion budget deficit looming.
That’s better than nothing.
For a year, Republicans have been begging Democrats to finally convene the commission designed to take on the deficit. And ’til now, they played dumb.
The commission is supposed to be looking for ways to head off an estimated $8 billion hole in the next two-year budget. But last week, House Democrats resisted an attempt by Republicans to force the group to stick to a meeting schedule that the Senate had agreed to in a 31-1 vote.
In an election year already dominated by partisan finger pointing, some wonder whether the glacial pace of the commission is election-year politics at play: No one wants to talk budget doomsday scenarios that could involve raising taxes, cutting vital services Ohioans enjoy or radically reshaping government. And Democratic lawmakers are also watching Gov. Ted Strickland’s back as he faces a re-election tussle with Republican challenger John Kasich.
[Republican] Sen. Shannon Jones of Springboro sent a letter Wednesday to fellow commission members proposing that the committee kick off the proceedings with a June 29 meeting featuring state Budget Director Pari Sabety and Tax Commissioner Rich Levin reviewing Ohio’s budget situation.
A second meeting on July 7 would include presentations from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association about how other states are dealing with their budget crises, Jones’ letter suggests.
State Sen. Dale Miller, a Cleveland Democrat on the panel, said he is so eager to start that he has called Jones’ office to say he’s available to meet on those days.
Wow, Dale. Nothing says “enthusiasm” like RSVPing.
Now if we could only get some ideas from the elected Governor of the state besides prayers for another stimulus from Congress.