Governor should have shared info

Published 10:30 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ohio House of Representatives lawmakers hammering out the budget knew the outlook was bad. Unfortunately, Gov. Ted Strickland knew things were even worse but decided not to share that information.

Strickland was warned that the state’s income tax revenues were $322 million lower than anticipated. When did he find out? April 28, the day BEFORE the House voted on a budget that hiked state spending by $622 million.

Now the Senate — Republican controlled — is upset about trying to make up $900 million. And rightfully so.

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The governor dropped the ball this time and made a mistake that will now greatly diminish the ability of the House and the Senate to find a middle ground.

The governor’s gaffe means that both sides weren’t essentially playing with the same deck so it will mean the two budgets will be even farther apart than normal.

This illustrates the need for total disclosure by the governor and constant communication with the legislature. Overall, we feel Strickland has done a good job but this could be a costly mistake.

Strickland argues that the tax projections weren’t concrete enough to merit that the information be shared.

Come on.

That simply doesn’t make sense. In these crucial economic times, every shred of information is vital. Strickland should have shared with House and Senate leaders everything he knew before either body voted on the budget.

We understand the governor’s caution but it would have been far easier for him to err on the side of caution and add revenue back into any budget plans than it will be to force legislature to cut an already tight budget.

The governor needs to be forthcoming will all information as soon as he gets it to make sure everyone is playing with the same deck of cards.