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The Reasons for Toledo’s Budget Woes

Today in Toledo, a press conference was held where Jack Ford and Carty Finkbeiner, the two Democratic predecessors to current Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, voiced their opposition to Issue 2.  The press conference where these men spoke was intended as a rebuttal to Mayor Bell’s support for Issue 2, and the former mayors were all too willing to repeat the same package of lies about Issue 2 that liberals have been spreading for months.  

The interesting part of the press conference was the two mayors reminiscing over their time in office.  They recall their times bargaining with the unions: how they “always ended with a handshake” and said Toledo didn’t need Issue 2’s reforms for future negotiations, either.  The two ex-mayors said Issue 2 would be bad for Toledo’s middle class.

What they won’t say is that Ford and Finkbeiner spent the city into deficit on their watch.  In January 2002, when Jack Ford took office, Toledo over 33 million dollars in reserve in the city’s general and rainy day fund.  Four years later, when Finkbeiner took over from Ford, this amount had been reduced to about 16 million combined.  When Mike Bell took office he inherited a multi-million dollar deficit.



GENERAL FUND

RAINY DAY

2001

19,494,000

14,398,000

2002

16,807,000

11,215,000

2003

13,420,000

8,860,000

2004

9,300,000

4,590,000

2005

10,771,000

5,418,000

2006

10,792,000

5,742,000

2007

12,633,000

6,242,000

2008

4,391,000

2,000,000

2009

-8,020,000

465,000

2010

-8,612,000

0


The men who left Toledo broke now want to complain about the remedy.  

Ford and Finkbeiner don’t care about the middle class.  They didn’t care about them as they spent the city’s surplus funds and they don’t care now as Toledo faces a deficit.  The current system leaves Toledo stuck between two options: lay off employees or raise taxes on those middle class families the two big spending mayors claim to care for.  Neither truly cares for the safety of Toledo, either.  If they had truly been looking out for the safety of Toledo’s citizens, they would have curbed spending long before it reached a crisis level that threatens all services in the city.

Ford said that his experience had consisted of “tough negotiations with unions”, but what was the result for the taxpayers of Toledo?


Toledo spends over 11 million dollars each year on pension pick-ups, a total that comes on top of the city’s 14 percent contribution share mandated by law.  And teachers in the Toledo school system pay nothing toward their health care premium.  While the average Toledo family suffers through recession, government employees’ unions load up their benefits packages on the backs of private sector workers.

That’s the result of “tough negotiations”? Most people have to save their own money in retirement funds, and if they’re lucky, their employers might contribute a percentage of that. Toledo city employees don’t even pay their full pension share.   Even if Issue 2’s reforms become law, these employees will still have it far better than the vast majority of private sector workers whose tax dollars pay for their benefits. All that’s being asked is some balance in the process.

That’s the result of the broken system the spend-happy former mayors spoke in defense of today.  Mayor Bell supports Issue 2 because the reforms of Issue 2 give cities the tools needed to rein in excessive benefits and spending.  Toledo is mired in red ink because of Ford and Finkbeiner’s reckless budgeting, but we can help Toledo and local governments across the state get their financial houses back in order by voting Yes on Issue 2.

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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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