Ohio State Budget is a Sad, Sad Joke — on Us

This, I shit you not, is the House Majority Leader in Ohio, William Batchelder of Medina.

Update: Since I wrote this article, Governor John Kasich has signed the bill, with 22 line-item vetoes. He vetoed something about spider monkeys, but none of the insane abortion restrictions below. He did veto an item in the budget that would have forbid Medicaid expansion, so keep that in mind when reading. That doesn’t mean we’re gonna expand Medicaid though. 😦

You kinda have to expect that everything coming out of Columbus these days, thanks to the beauty of partisan gerrymandering, is some sort of blueprint for Ohio’s destruction. But the state budget just passed by Ohio lawmakers? Holy shit. It’s cartoonishly evil. It would almost be funny, if it weren’t so sad.

I’ll give you the highlights. It’s starts out with a big helping of class warfare on poor Ohioans, because the 54 percent of children in Cleveland that live in poverty, they’ve had it too good, until this point! State lawmakers are going to raise sales taxes on everyone — a regressive tax that hurts poor people — so they can give income tax breaks mostly to the richest 1 percent of the state. If you make more than $350,000 a year, you would save more than $10,000 annually on taxes (if you’re smart you’ll use some of it to write another fat check to your state rep). If you make less than $18,000 annually? Your taxes go up $63! Seems fair!

I have absolutely no idea what this is premised on. Jobs? It’s pretty straightforward trickle-down economics, that whole concept that just crashed our national economy and everyone pretty much rejected in the last two presidential elections. I guess the idea is that some rich people will move to the state or something (work harder) now that their state taxes are slightly lower (Imagine a mass exodus of rich people from our coastal metropolises and into Akron! It could totally happen!). Meanwhile, the costs of everyone’s goods will increase, which seems straightforwardly bad for the economy.

It gets worse. Naturally, this new budget has a whole bunch of completely batshit anti-abortion stuff in it. Here’s a sampling: If you have an abortion and something goes wrong, you can’t be transferred to a public hospital. What if ladies die as a result? Who cares, is the resounding answer from our legislature.

Also, the bill would strip funding from Planned Parenthood — you know the birth control dispensary that’s surely done more than anyone in Ohio to prevent abortion. Also, rape crisis centers aren’t allowed to inform ladies that they have the option to abort their attackers’ fetus, or they lose funding. Coercing victims of rape into carrying their babies to term, pretty neat, huh?

But, ok. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more really, really bad stuff. You’re gonna like this. The new budget will refuse $14 billion in federal aid to expand Medicaid. The federal government, here, is saying, ‘please, let us write you a $14 billion check,’ and state legislators — who are SUPER concerned about the economy — are saying ‘no thanks, we’re cool.’

The issue here is, Republicans hate Obamacare! He’s a socialist! And even though he was just reelected, and our national political process has many times upheld this signature piece of legislation — that won’t stop our state lawmakers from acting like petty schoolchildren. There is absolutely no sound policy basis for refusing $14 billion in federal money to help the working poor get healthcare. NONE! I repeat, none! But let’s review the outrageous explanations offered.

Here’s one: they’re concerned about the federal deficit, federal spending. Here’s the thing: state lawmakers have NO CONTROL AT ALL over federal spending. They must be confused and think they were elected to federal office and they have a say in the federal deficit. Guess what? They DON’T. The money won’t be used to fix the federal deficit. They don’t get to say what it is and is not used for, because FEDERAL LAWMAKERS ALREADY DECIDED THAT AND FEDERAL LAWMAKERS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN STATE LAWMAKERS, at least when it comes to federal spending — something only federal lawmakers get to decide.

Anyway, denying healthcare to millions of Ohioans just for the hell of it, it will probably actually raise the federal deficit because sick people aren’t good for the economy. Dead people don’t work, can’t pay the state’s new high sales tax every time they want to buy paper towels. But it’s their own fault for being poor and living in a state that holds them in complete and utter contempt — these are working poor people, mind you, that would be affected.

Here’s another explanation offered: the federal government at some point in the future might require Ohio to pay part of the bill for insuring its residents. That is like if someone came over and offered you $140,000, but there was some question about whether or not you might have to pay taxes on it in the future. And you said, oh hell no, take your $140,000 and give it to someone else, buddy, I’m no dummy! That is the level of wisdom and rational decision making we are getting at this point, from our state leaders, who you BETTER BELIEVE all have state sponsored health care.

How could we get such a crazy budget, you are probably asking yourself at this point. The answer, my friends, is partisan gerrymandering. Ohio allows the party in power every 10 years to draw state political boundaries. The party in power in Ohio — to quote Mike Polk — is always Republicans. They draw the districts so that there are as many as possible “safe” Republican districts. This renders our whole democracy in this state sort of a farce.

The result is, Republicans don’t have to worry about being voted out of office for passing clown budgets like this one, that very clearly go against their constituents’ expressed wishes. Instead, they only need to worry about being “primaried” because they’ve upset the 25 craziest people who live in Medina County. So they attempt to pass laws saying, ‘in Ohio fetuses will be required to wear tiaras,’ and then they can go to their party faithful — the craziest members of their party — and say, I’m conservative! Did you hear about my fetus-tiara bill?

The end! Ohio’s state government is a sad joke on Ohioans and nobody even seems that upset about it, which is perhaps the most depressing part of all.

-A.S.

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