Reason.tv: Gov. Kasich's Ohio Budget Disaster

Can you cut government by jacking spending 11%?


It sounds like a mythic tale of heroic salvation: A former Republican congressman with a fierce reputation as a cost-cutter comes out of retirement, runs for governor of one of the largest states in the country, and is swept into office by an anti-incumbent, anti-spending wave. Frustrated voters also give the new governor's party control of both houses in the state's legislature.

He promises to tackle a historic deficit by slashing spending in his first budget and then…tries to jack up spending by 11 percent during his first two years in office?

If the state of Ohio—"the Heart of it All" according to the state's license plates—is a political weathervane, then Gov. John Kasich's first proposed budget represents an ill wind for fiscal responsibility.

Kasich won a narrow victory in November by promising to create a business climate that would grow the state's shrinking private sector, which has bled nearly 600,000 jobs since 2000. He inherited a historic $8 billion deficit, a consequence of out-of-control spending that spiked outlays by 41 percent in inflation-adjusted dolars since 1990. (That huge bump, incidentally, happened mostly under Republican legislators.)

To call Kasich's opening budget a massive disappointment to the small-government proponents and Tea Party types who put him in office is an understatement.

Reformers such as Matt Mayer of the Columbus-based Buckeye Institute were hoping for a fundamental rethink of how the state spends money. Instead, in an embarrassing three-hour meeting in March, Kasich released a budget that actually increases spending over the coming two years from $50.5 billion to $55.5 billion (like many states, Ohio budgets for two years at a time).

Reason.tv sat down with Mayer to discuss what's gone wrong in Ohio and so many other states when it comes to cutting spending. And what John Kasich—and other leaders across the country— should do if they want to get serious about limiting the growth of government.

Aproximately 2 minutes.

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