Monday, September 12, 2011

State balanced the budget on backs of local government

Tuscarawas County commissioners confirmed recently what I’ve believed all along – that Gov. John Kasich’s anti-tax fervor doesn’t actually include local governments.

Kasich apparently is OK with shifting the tax burden from the state to local government, which seems to contradict the will of the people, who have complained for years – rightly or wrongly – about the uneven burden of funding for their local school districts.

(I say rightly because wealthy communities generally have better schools than their poorer counterparts, which doesn’t seem fair. I say wrongly because perhaps citizens deserve the kind of schools for which they are willing to pay. The kids, of course, deserve the best no matter where they happen to live, but since when did they count? Right, parents?)

The state through a confusing and complicated formula provides funding from income tax revenue to local school districts, which have been told that they’ll be getting less in the future. For New Philadelphia Schools, for example, that means the immediate loss of about $1 million, according to folks in the know.

Commissioner Jim Seldenright, according to a newspaper account, recalled a meeting the County Commissioners Assn. had with a Kasich administration representative.

Kasich’s rep told the commissioners that Senate Bill 5 was a source of financial relief for counties (how I’m not sure – SB 5 did not nullify contracts in force as far I as I know).

In addition, Commissioner Chris Abbuhl was quoted as saying that the local officials also were told to cut services or raise taxes.

Bingo. There’s the strategy. Cut services. Raise taxes.

One way government cuts services is by cutting people because government is people-driven, not product-driven. So, when Kasich says, “Cut services,” he’s really saying, “Cut people.”

When schools cut services, they are cutting teachers. When counties cut services, they are cutting sheriff’s deputies and bridge and road workers and so on.

So, to solve the state’s $8 billion projected deficit, Kasich is just handing it off to the local guys.

The commissioners explained the state of the county’s finances to some 60 business and community leaders.

In addition to the eventual elimination of Local Government Funds, which come from the state, the county’s investment income is in the tank, as is the sales tax, which is rebounding somewhat – but not enough – as a result of the fracking activity.

The recession that doesn’t want to die is now taking aim for our counties, our schools, our cities, villages and townships. Those who want less government should be happy, I guess, because raising taxes doesn’t seem to be a viable option on any level.


Cleveland area Republican State Rep. Marlene Anielski takes this week’s “Dumb Idea” award.

Anielski sent out a press release recently announcing a contest, “There Ought to be a Law,” which solicits constituents’ ideas for legislation. The winner would have lunch with her, presumably at a trendy Cleveland or Columbus restaurant. (I’m making an assumption that she won’t take the winner to lunch at Waffle House, although I don’t have anything personally against Waffle House, which I consider to be a great American experience, especially the decadent hash browns.)

So now our legislators are sponsoring contests to come up with more laws we probably don’t need. Are they putting something in the water down there? And what happened to Anielski’s Republican ideology which calls for less government? She should switch parties immediately.


A lot of people have offered to me that they have a better idea than the one officially proposed by Dover City Schools, which seeks voter approval for a new high school.

Ironically, not one of those people actually voiced their idea to anyone who stepped up in an effort to get the project done.

And incidentally, I will be looking for some sign that Dover City Council and the administration are behind the school district’s effort to build a new high school, which ultimately will make Dover a more valuable community. One would think the city would get behind the initiative soon.

And further incidentally, New Philadelphians probably ought to be quietly paying attention to what’s going on in Dover because that community, according to sources, is only a year or two away from having to answer the same new high school question.

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