Election Implications for Ohio’s Budget
Today, headlines and lead stories in Ohio and across the country are pointing to the federal “fiscal slope,” the drum beat for income tax cuts in Ohio, and how local levies fared. Pundits on both sides of the aisle always talk about the mandates of elections, but things are rarely so clear cut. My top impressions from the election, including links to many of the places I’ve looked for analysis and wrap-up:
Nationally: A large majority of Americans know that the wealthy and big corporations are not paying their fair share, and you can directly talk about that to voters and win. This has been shown in poll after poll, but this may be a turning point election in terms of the willingness of presidential candidates and other national figures to take it head on. As the Bush Tax Cuts expire, at a bare minimum the top 2% (those making over $250,000/year) should be asked to do their part. But, the conversation about who pays and for what is far from over. Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) has a great overview here on where things stand.
The State Level: It varies from state to state, and campaign by campaign, but when you make a clear case to voters about the value of public services and suggest a reasonable revenue source to pay for things like public education, there is support to be had. California’s Prop 30 may be the biggest example of a win for revenue, and there several notable defensive wins as well (in Florida, for example, on its dangerous TABOR-esque ballot). So, while there were bumps in the road for those of us working on budget and revenue issues, I think this will be seen as a largely very positive year at the state level. See CTJ on state ballots (detail here) and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center priorities list for more info on what happened at the state ballot level.
In Ohio: While the picture was largely positive nationally, moving forward a thoughtful conversation about the value of public services and the need for the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share arguably took a step back this week. The Ohio General Assembly power structure, largely due to the gerrymandering of House and Senate districts that gives us representatives who are less moderate than the state as a whole, remains. For those of us seeking legislators who will consider a balanced approach to balancing the budget, this is a serious challenge. Thankfully, there was good news: every senior service levy passed, and many important school levies passed as well. Hopefully, going forward, we can work toward a state budget will restore cuts to schools and local governments and not leave localities to make up the difference while the wealthiest Ohioans and profitable corporations carry even less of the load. For a round up of human service levies, check out Advocates for Ohio’s Future list, and StateImpact has the school levy info.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that budget issues are at the top of the priority list in our national and state politics. That’s of course because how our economy is doing is wrapped up in the choices we make at the federal, state, and local level through our budgeting. Our communities feel the affects of the choices we make, and the extent to which this year’s elections took this head on is a testament to where we’re at in Ohio and across the country.
It’s still too soon to draw many conclusions about how Tuesday’s elections will shape Ohio’s state budget process in 2013 and beyond, but hopefully this wrap up helps you see the big picture just a bit better.