CLEVELAND – Ohio Gov. John Kasich had a rough first year in office. His biggest agenda item by far, the S.B. 5 collective bargaining bill, was trounced at the polls in November, 61% to 39%. On election night, Kasich said, “The people of Ohio have spoken and I respect their decision.”
In January, he said, “I’ve learned a lot in this first year.” Did he?
One would think that the biggest lesson of 2011 would be not to ram proposals through that the public opposes. Kasich had no election mandate to cripple Ohio’s collective bargaining system. There was no public clamor for it. Kasich and a majority of Ohio legislators wanted to do it, so they went ahead and did it.
In 2012, he’s making the same mistake. Kasich has found a new idea to try to ram through: his plan to make it easier for oil and gas drillers from Texas and Oklahoma to use the notorious practice of “fracking,” a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, in our state.
He is set on this, even though Ohioans have a very different view. Ohio voters say, 72% – 23% that hydro-fracking should be stopped until there are further studies on its impact, according to a January Quinnipiac poll. This lop-sided response came from people of all ages, incomes, educational levels, by sex, and by party, with Republicans favoring a halt by 63% to 31%. Voters also said, by 43% to 16 % that hydro-fracking will damage the environment, with 40 % saying they didn’t know.
Actually, this time it’s worse than in 2011. Kasich also forgot to check with the legislature before charging ahead. That’s why, last Friday, House Finance Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz announced that he would put the governor’s proposal on hold for more study. “Asked in a telephone interview how long the proposal would be put off, Amstutz said ‘indefinitely.’”
— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action