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Ohio’s Unreliable GOP

Despite passage of Senate Bill 5, which requires all teachers to kick the shins of no less than three (3) Democrats daily or be subject to a firing squad, Ohio conservatives should remember where much of the state GOP stands. Being more fiscally responsible than the Democrat alternative is hardly an achievement; we need to do a better job of weeding out Democrat-lite candidates during the primaries.

When the House proposed stronger voter identification rules this spring, Speaker Batchelder et al. took fire from the usual quarters, with the race card played early and often. Secretary of State Jon Husted (R, by Ohio standards) opposed the bill’s photo ID requirement, based on the assumption that it’d take more than a friend’s utility bill and 5 minutes at your computer to forge an AEP statement.

The gentle, moderate legislation passed last week by the Ohio Senate enjoyed effusive praise from Cleveland Democrat Shirley Smith:

“This bill in its current form is oppressive. It is racist. It is discriminatory,” Smith said.

Of course, the House requirement for photo ID was coupled with the guarantee of free cards for indigent Ohioans, but the Senate’s even-less-demanding legislation is still racist. Any bill that requires any likely Democrat voter to put forth even the tiniest effort is “racist,” as far as totally non-racist Democrat senators like Shirley Smith are concerned… yet these are the colleagues Ohio GOP senators feel compelled to please.

As soon as the House budget arrived in the Senate, the Senate began adding water to the original bill’s cuts and reforms. Senators decided the transparently wasteful policy of multiple-prime contracting should be tweaked instead of eliminated. First steps to a merit pay system for public employees are apparently something GOP senators will oppose with the public unions:

What’s more, rigorous performance evaluations in these states are not just in place to help determine which teachers to let go. They also will help identify and reward highly effective teachers and tailor professional development in ways that help improve instruction. Ohio should do the same, and the teacher-evaluation language presented to the Senate achieved just that.

Unfortunately, the Senate has dropped these provisions from its version of the budget, preferring instead to maintain Ohio’s status as a laggard state with archaic laws that force districts to consider only seniority when making layoff decisions.

The budget fight leads to the same question as Senate Bill 5: are voters serious about getting government out of our way? Forget the hitch – the Ohio Democratic Party’s entire wagon is class warfare, leaving the GOP to make a case for smaller, cheaper state government. Though every budget is a biennial tug-of-war, a union victory this November would mean Ohio politicians dare not challenge the unions’ costly influence again.

Voters ought to have a clear choice come referendum time – bow to leftist demands for higher taxes, or support reforms that empower the taxpayer for a change. Mercifully, enough Republican state senators voted for SB 5 to give us the second option!

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero and Columbus Tea Party.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.

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