Ohio's Lost Decade, and Its New Hope

Kasich and legislative leaders first pushed through SB5, a union-limiting cost control measure similar in many ways to Wisconsin's better-known budget repair law, despite a poor performance by the PR-averse ORPINO, the opposition's fundamentally dishonest claims, and some opponents' sickening, Badger State-like childishness. As of this writing, Kasich and the GOP-dominated legislature, which lost the House in 2008 but won it back in 2010, appeared on the verge of meeting the budget challenge without raising taxes.

There's a new constructive attitude in state government which, despite early stumbles, some by Kasich himself, shows signs of becoming contagious. "A new way, a new day," and moving "at the speed of business instead of at the speed of a statue" may actually be more than corny slogans.

Most important, though it's far too early to get overly excited, the state's workforce is finally growing again. Through May, Ohio added 70,000 seasonally adjusted jobs, the fourth-highest in the country in percentage terms, and easily the best of any industrial state. It's the best January through May result since 1994, which will not surprise longtime Buckeye State residents, as that is about the time when second-term governor and alleged Republican George Voinovich became just another tax-and-spend politician. The Kasich administration has also scored key corporate saves of companies which were considering leaving the state.

If anything will keep Ohio from legitimately turning around, it's the state-reliant, business-hostile comfort zone in which too many relatively disengaged Buckeye State voters reside. That's the only plausible explanation why the 2010 gubernatorial race was as close as it was.

The state's Tea Party adherents have been among the nation's most active. To help sustain Kasich's early momentum, they will need to redouble their efforts in the coming months and years. Fortunately, the movement's leadership is aggressively acting to meet that challenge. Its "We the People" Convention in Columbus on July 1-2 promises to serve as Activism 101 for sensible conservatives, and to build an effective counter to the Alinsky-driven left. Buckeye State residents and out-of-staters who want to leave a free, solvent state and country to their children and grandchildren should seriously consider attending.