For over a year we heard about A New Way and A New Day.
Very early in the morning on November 3rd, we celebrated the idea that this promise would begin January 10th.
Well, we were wrong.
John Kasich got a head start.
In Sunday’s Dispatch we saw this article about Ohio’s budget crisis above the fold…
Many advocates and special-interest groups seeking pieces of Ohio’s dwindling budget pie say that with sweeping cuts unavoidable, they need to adjust their strategy for the coming budget debate.
Instead of lobbying Gov.-elect John Kasich and Republican legislative leaders for money, they hope to preserve the services they hold dear by pitching ideas for saving scarce tax dollars.
“You can’t sit around singing Kumbaya anymore. There’s an $8 billion deficit, so we need to see what we can do to help this governor,” said Terry Russell, interim director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
“I want to be his poster child for ‘You can do things better with less money.’”
The rhetoric and realities of the next budget are forcing groups to do things differently, and key lawmakers say it’s a refreshing change.
“This is not the standard procedure I’ve seen over the years,” said Rep. Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster, a 30-year veteran and incoming House Finance Committee chairman. “The standard procedure is more of a frontal attack — we’re doing this critical stuff, and this is how much more we need.
“I think they’re recognizing special carve-outs aren’t going to be happening because of a lack of funds. They are trying to be more creative.”
Senate President-elect Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, agreed. Two years ago, when the budget problem was less severe but still significant, he said, groups would say: “I know the budget is going to be difficult, but this is only $50 million.”
“I’m not hearing that now,” he said. “I’m hearing: ‘We know how tough it’s going to be … so we want to be proactive and share some ideas on how we can continue to deliver services in this new environment.’ I think that’s very encouraging.”
Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, co-chairman of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of health and human-services organizations, said she was told in a meeting with House leaders last week: “Don’t come in here and ask for anything; come in with ideas.”
She plans to oblige them.
“I would much rather that we come up with ideas and come to the table than sit around and whine that we don’t want to do anything different,” she said.
In a political world that has relied on a “screw the other guy, my stuff is more importmant” mentality, this new way of thinking is fantastic to see.
It shows interest groups recognize Ohio has been left in a tough spot, and they’re willing to make the sacrifice necessary to bring the state back.
Kasich’s hard-nosed style has helped make this happen. By being as clear as day that he’ll do what he believes is best for Ohio, he has sent a message that if interest groups want to be heard, they need to recognize the position they’re in. And it’s working.
Would this have been happening if Strickland was re-elected? Possible, but very unlikely. The Governor’s constant reinforcement of his desire for another federal bailout would have relieved the pressure on interest groups and given them hope for the a continuation of the status quo.
Instead, people are getting on the bus and working towards a better Ohio.
Nice head start, Governor-Elect.