THE BLOG

Gambling with Ohio's Future

08/01/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

The entire country is in the midst of a financial meltdown, and the politicians don't care. All they want is power. To them it is only a game. But they are gambling with our lives. Ohio is facing one of the worst budget crises in its history, facing a shortfall of 3.2 billion dollars, and instead of rolling up their sleeves to hash out a budget, the politicians are rolling the dice in an epic game of fool the public.

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Photo Credit: Doral Chenoweth III | DISPATCH
Gov. Ted Strickland holds up an Ohio State Journal that records Senate President Bill M. Harris' and other Republicans' support for video gambling terminals at racetracks in 2007.

Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has reluctantly agreed to allow slot machines at Ohio racetracks to avoid raising taxes. The move will bring in $933 million dollars of much needed revenue while saving the failing Ohio Horseracing industry and all the jobs that come with it. Republican Senate President Bill Harris was all for that idea when the GOP proposed it in 2007, but now is digging in against the Democratic version like a donkey refusing to pull a plow. Why? Is it because he had a change of heart? No. He is stalling the approval of the all important Ohio Budget because he is making a political power play on behalf of his party.

He is gambling that by stalling the budget process on this issue, the GOP will win the 2010 election, putting candidate John Kasich in the saddle as Governor. Kasich will be able to overcome his connections to the Lehman Brothers Wall Street mess if he assaults Ohio voters with a barrage of television ads demonizing our current Methodist pastor and Governor as a riverboat gambler, and devil in disguise. I can just see the ads now, with dark creepy shadows, sneering smiles, and slot machines. I wouldn't be surprised if they draw a pencil thin mustache on his picture. Oh, it's gonna be ugly.

Governor Strickland wants the budget to pass and is working hard to force the legislature to remain in session and get the job done as elected officials grumble about missing golden opportunities to eat hotdogs and hug babies at 4th of July parades. But Bill Harris doesn't care about that. In the hierarchy of politics, the governorship is the jackpot, and budget- be-damned, he is bound and determined to win it for the GOP.

This cat and mouse game will force Ohio into an emergency budget, and send our state into further decline. Agencies will not know what their budget is, and will be unable to operate effectively, forcing financial shell games at a time when sound fiscal planning and good government are critical. The people of Ohio will go bust while these politicians gamble for power. So when those ads hit the airways, it might be wise to remember who the real poker players are: Kasich and Harris, and all the GOP stalwarts who bloviate about fiscal responsibility while playing craps with our lives.