Thursday, May 05, 2011

Ohio Democrats’ Political Theatrics Muddle Budget Discussion

COLUMBUS—Today, floor debates on House Bill 153—the state budget bill—were distorted when House Democrats attempted to block meaningful discussion by putting partisan gamesmanship before constructive debate. Specifically, they referenced budget language regarding merit-based pay for teachers and pointed to a House rule stating that members cannot revise Ohio Revised Code (ORC) provisions that are subject to referendum. Currently, the referendum on merit-based pay and Senate Bill 5 has not yet begun as signatures are still being collected, so the supposed constitutional transgression that was referenced is effectively incorrect.
Additionally, the minority caucus pointed to a rule that states that the House cannot revise the same ORC section twice; however, this rule only applies if a particular paragraph of a bill is amended during House session and is therefore unable to be re-amended during that same session and during debates on the same bill.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) released the following statement:
“I’m disappointed that the House Democrats have failed to respect the People’s House, the democratic process and the people of Ohio by delaying what has been an open, honest debate from the start. The minority party has chosen to avoid tackling the real issues that are facing this state—just like when they were in the majority two years ago.
“Today, the House Democratic Caucus attempted to use political tricks to convolute discussions on the state budget. Rather than bringing innovative ideas to the table that would help to create jobs, fix Ohio’s economy and get Ohio back on a path to prosperity, they concocted bogus procedural arguments to distract from their own failures as a caucus when they held the gavel. Minority Democrats’ smoke-and-mirrors tactics have become the only strategy in their misguided playbook.  At a time when we should be discussing public policies to help Ohio, the House Democrats are spending their time seeking ways to skew the debate entirely.
“Although the House Republicans have hoped for a cooperative two-sided debate so that all Ohioans can be represented in the People’s House, it is becoming clear that the House Democrats would rather shut their eyes and dig their heels in the mud than do their jobs of representing their constituents.”