The new state budget attempts to battle unemployment by firing Ohioans.
Fueled by shortsighted ideology, Governor Kasich and the Republican dominated Legislature have forgone the popular option of closing tax loopholes that amount to $7 billion annually in this state, choosing instead to balance the budget entirely by selling public assets, cutting local funds and eliminating thousands of jobs.
In what they’ve called the “Jobs Budget,” the GOP has shown that they would rather have Ohioans idle on unemployment than let them earn a real wage and add value to our communities and economy.
The party in power is out of touch at best, and at worst, recklessly neglectful to the needs of this state.
Two recent announcements should strike Ohioans as deeply concerning. First, Ohio’s unemployment strayed from the national average and went up in June for the first time in 22 months – nearly 2 years of recovery – in part due to the loss of 7,300 government jobs. Second, because of the fire sale of two prisons in Lorain and Marion County to private owners, over 1,100 prison jobs in our area will soon be eliminated, go without being filled, or for those fortunate enough to stay on – pay less competitively in a setting where staff are statistically more likely to be assaulted by a prisoner.
No doubt, every Ohioan hopes that we won’t see unemployment rise to 8.9% in July; that June was a blip and we will resettle, but whether or not it does rise, we should not pretend that the layoffs created by the Majority Party’s budget are happening in a vacuum. Their ideological single-mindedness will test the limits of our recovery; forcing Ohioans to create two jobs for every one eliminated if we are to make any progress.
All the while, Ohio’s Republicans are behaving as though we’ve gotten something for free and that nothing is wrong, but Ohioans know better than most that nothing comes for free.
Our children will bear the brunt of it using outdated learning materials in classrooms with 40 or 50 of their peers. They’ll have diminished access to honors classes, fine arts, foreign languages and sports, and will be taught by teachers who are in financial ruin, whose efforts aren’t respected, let alone supported by their elected representation.
Our communities will wonder why police responses are slower and why regular patrols aren’t keeping our street corners safe. We’ll wish that the fire department could respond more quickly, or in fuller force. We’ll lose mementos and purses; we’ll lose loved ones.
Our automobiles will feel it with each grinding pothole that the city can’t afford to fix. Our neighborhoods will be plagued by the barren, foreclosed properties of our friends who have lost jobs, public or private, and we will wonder why the city won’t keep them up to code or demolish them.
In short, after years of working to do more with less, we’ll simply do less.
What Ohioans must remember is that this course, which will cost so much to so many, is the choice that the Ohio GOP made with exuberant smiles on the floors of the House and Senate. This is the option that they chose over all others and have continued to defend even as the pink slips are printing in Lorain County. While weary local governments and school districts contemplate the levies they so desperately need to pass in the fall, their state officials have gone on break for the summer.
We cannot afford to view these issues through the happy fiction of Governor Kasich’s JobsBudget, and we must not let his allies deconstruct the civic and social achievements of this state.
In truth, we don’t just need jobs, we need careers, but that’s a lot to ask of our current leadership, which seems poorly equipped to provide honest Ohioans with either.
Ohio House District 56