Frankly, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is between a rock and a hard place.
With a new budget period about to begin...and with the Buckeye State looking at big defecits...Strickland is at odds with the Ohio Legislature, including legislators from his own Democratic party.
When your state...or local...government is facing budget defecits, you basically have two options: cut spending or raise revenue. Although Strickland has changed course and supported slot machines in Ohio racetracks (mostly located in the state's major cities), "raising revenue" usually means raising taxes.
Cutting spending is what's popular among voters...unless it affects programs those individuals depend on. The protest among proposed spending cuts for libraries is an example.
But does Strickland support a tax increase, something supported by some lawmakers? If he's hedging, a well-remembered remark he made in a 1994 debate in Marietta may be a reason.
Strickland then was a freshman congressman, seeking a second term. His opponent was Frank Cremeans, supported by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican party, which won control of Congress that year for the first time in 40 years.
In the debate between the two at Marietta College, the candidates were asked what should be done to reduce the federal budget defecit. Strickland's response, booed by the audience, was, "We might have to raise some taxes". It sounded like the reverse of George H.W. Bush's famous "Read my lips" remark in 1988 (something he, in effect, later went back on).
The Republican party wasted no time putting TV ads on the air featuring his remark. He lost the election to Cremeans, although he won the seat back two years later.
One wonders if, given the current budget battle, and his apparent decline in poll popularity, he's reluctant to seek any kind of a tax increase, given his loss in 1994, the recent rejection of similar tax hikes by voters in California (also mired in a budget defecit), and the fact that Strickland faces re-election in 2010.
It can be argued that voters put an elected official in office to make tough decisions. They also don't often like those decisions when they're made.
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