OK, The Election’s Over, Now What?
Campaign 2012 is giving way to Policy 2013. As this year’s political dust starts to settle, new dust will soon stir. Major decisions face policy makers in Washington, at the Statehouse and at Columbus City Hall.
First up are the federal budget negotiations aimed at avoiding automatic tax hikes and spending cuts at the start of the new year. Of course, Speaker John Boehner of West Chester will play a key role, but other Ohio lawmakers are worth watching. Senator Rob Portman and Congressmen Pat Tiberi and Steve Stivers are seen as reasonably moderate conservatives, but Republicans who have signed Grover Nordquist’s “No Tax Hike” pledge. All three have said they are willing to consider reducing the number or amount of deductions, which violates the pledge, but not raise rates. It will be interesting to see if they go further or stick to their guns, especially Tiberi and Stivers whose new districts are even more Republican leaning than their current ones.
Early in 2013 Governor John Kasich and his two-year state budget will come into focus. The governor promises to maintain and expand what he calls his pro-business, pro-growth agenda. With Ohio’s economy growing and budget surpluses increasing, look for the possibility of Governor Kasich to propose tax cuts. Democrats likely will call for the restoration of budget reductions to state agencies and the fund that supports local governments. The governor’s plan to increase taxes on oil and gas producers will also resurface in the next couple months.
The governor this spring is also expected to take his crack at fixing Ohio’s education funding system, which repeatedly has been ruled unconstitutional. Kasich will be the fourth governor to try to find a way to meet the constitutional mandate that Ohio fund “a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the State.” The education reform debate will have a great impact on Central Ohio students, teachers, employers and taxpayers.
The city of Columbus is looking at reforming its school district. With Superintendent Gene Harris’s retirement, Columbus political and business leaders are looking to reshape the district and choose a new leader. Mayor Michael Coleman has taken a prominent role in the process, and there have been hints of major changes in how the Columbus City Schools operate. Some see Coleman as acting as an unelected 8th member of the school board, something the mayor denies. He says he’s just playing an active advisory role.
And if you really miss campaigns, two big ones loom. Supporters of gay marriage are preparing to ask voters, possibly next November, to overturn Ohio’s gay marriage ban. And John Kasich and Democrats are already gearing up for the 2014 race for governor. Suddenly we’re getting a lot of press releases from the Cuyahoga County Executive’s office. Ed Fitzgerald is laying the groundwork to be the Democrat to challenge John Kasich.