The Republican head of Hamilton County’s governing board outlined his own alternative for a 2013 budget on Monday, proposing an austere path forward after rejecting other budgets that would raise some taxes.
Board of County Commissioners President Greg Hartmann said his proposed budget would reduce the size of county government by 30 percent, compared to five years ago. He said he wants the board to approve a budget before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It is a budget of austerity and investment in growth,” Hartmann said.
He added, “It is a structurally-balanced budget,” that doesn’t use one-time sources of cash to make up for shortfalls.
Hartmann’s proposed budget would cut the Sheriff’s Department by about $57,000 or 0.01 percent from 2012 levels; reduce the coroner’s appropriation by 3 percent or $99,000; cut economic development by 5 percent; cut 5 percent from adult criminal courts; and reduce subsidies to the Communications Center and Sheriff’s Department.
Hartmann stressed that it is important to fund public safety as fully as allowable in these tough economic times, as economic development is not possible without it.
Hartmann’s budget comes after commissioners rejected three proposals from County Administrator Christian Sigman.
Sigman proposed $18.7 million in cuts, which Hartmann’s budget maintained in addition to his own reductions.
Two of Sigman’s proposals involved increasing the sales tax to balance the budget.
Fellow Republican Commissioner Chris Monzel said he supports Hartmann’s efforts at austerity, but is working on his own budget proposal as well.
“An austerity budget is the way we’re going to go, and it’s going to be hard,” he said.
The board’s sole Democrat, Todd Portune, said he too is working on his own proposal that he had hoped to have prepared for the Nov. 5 meeting, but was still making tweaks and hoped to present it by the following week.
He hinted that the results of Election Day might impact how he crafts his budget proposal.
“Tomorrow’s results may have an impact as well on the budget that I present as it relates as well to those who are running for county seats,” Portune said. “We have in some cases two very different visions in terms of solutions.”
Both he and Hartmann are up for re-election. Portune is running against Libertarian Bob Frey. Neither candidate has a major party challenger.
Hartmann, who has actively campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had a joke in response to Portune’s waiting for the election results.
“I thought you were predicting Romney’s win would make the economy go on the right track,” Hartmann cracked. “I was thinking that’s what you were going to go with.”
Before it went down to a crushing defeat, top officials at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve were describing the $700 billion bailout plan that failed Monday in starkly different terms during private conversations with Wall Street investors.
As most people know, the proposed bailout failed yesterday in a surprising 205-228 vote, defying the wishes of President Bush as well as Democratic and Republican party leaders. Overall, there were 140 Democrats in favor of the plan and 95 opposed, with 65 Republicans in support and 133 opposed.
Progressive bloggers were tipped off that Treasury officials were holding a secret conference call with Wall Street executives Monday before the vote and managed to access the call and listen in. What they heard reveals a lot about who really wields power in the U.S. political system, and how Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — shade the truth for constitutients.
Treasury officials reportedly told the executives that provisions calling for the $700 billion to be given in phased payments were a formality and the entire amount could be accessed at once, if needed. Also, provisions limiting executive pay at failed firms were mostly symbolic and would have little actual effect, as they didn’t affect existing contracts.
Further, clawback provisions that would attempt to help taxpayers recoup some of the money once assets were sold by the government “would need more congressional and presidential action to implement” and was unlikely to occur.
It’s interesting how Treasury Department appointees — who are supposed to be acting in the public’s interest — give a different description of the bailout in private.
Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders promise to try again with a revised bailout plan when they reconvene Thursday. Already the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors are busy trying to pressure GOP lawmakers into approving a bailout plan, threatening to withhold campaign cash from those who don’t.
Although hometown boy and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) initially tried to blame the bill’s defeat on a fiery floor speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, today’s Washington Post undercuts that position. GOP leaders said later they had been pessimistic about the bill’s chances from the start because many conservative representatives were ideologically opposed to a large, taxpayer-funded intervention. In fact, Boehner and others seriously considered asking Pelosi to delay any vote Monday, The Post reports.
Adhering to simplistic GOP talking points, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou blasts Pelosi on his blog for the bill’s defeat. Ol’ Alex defends Boehner, adding his stance showed leadership. What, then, does the opposing position taken by Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt, Geoff Davis and the rest of Greater Cincinnati’s Republican congressional delegation show? The chairman is remaining mum on that one.
Some observers on both the right and the left describe what happened Monday as a modern day Boston Tea Party, with an angry public finally standing up to an out-of-control investor class. Let’s hope the party doesn’t peter out anytime soon.
— Kevin Osborne
A state lawmaker will host two sessions later this month designed to give advice to small business owners on obtaining loans to start or expand a business.
State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-9th District) is sponsoring the Small Business Credit Access Forum on July 28. The sessions will be held at the TechSolve Business Park, located at 6705 Stegner Drive in Carthage.
As the newspaper industry continues to suffer from declining ad revenues and a migration of readers to the Internet, The Cincinnati Enquirer is being hit particularly hard.
Dozens of newspapers nationwide reported drops in circulation, according to the latest figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. But the figures reported for Cincinnati’s only daily metropolitan newspaper were in the double-digits, well above the national average decline of 7 percent.
Although he will celebrate his 81st birthday in less than two months, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev still is an astute observer of the world’s political scene.
Unlike his political contemporaries Ronald Reagan (who is dead) and Margaret Thatcher (who is acutely ill), Gorbachev remains sharp and aware, and keeps making headlines. Ever since the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-08, Gorbachev has advocated that the United States needs a similar period of reforms, or “perestroika,” that he advanced in the Soviet Union beginning in 1986.
Cincinnati officials today released an updated list of City Hall employees who have unpaid parking tickets, and the list includes members of the Police and Fire departments.
A total of 311 municipal employees have delinquent parking tickets, totaling $30,662 in unpaid fines, as of May 4th. That amounts to about 0.25 percent of the total amount of delinquent tickets, said a city spokeswoman.
An organization of retired labor union workers is praising the failure of Congress' so-called “super committee” to agree on a deficit reduction deal as a good development for elderly Americans.
The Ohio chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans said many politicians, especially Republicans, are unfairly blaming the deficit on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They are using the budget battle as an excuse to dismantle programs they dislike, the group added.
Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day and the event will be commemorated locally with a march to several local offices, urging state and federal policymakers to reduce deficits through other means than hurting the poor, the disabled, children and the elderly.
The big news this morning is President Obama’s State of the Union address, which revealed an assertive, populist side to B-Rock that’s largely been missing during the first three years of his term.
Will Obama keep his promises to go after Wall Street excesses and reckless financial firms, or is it mere election year posturing like apparently many of his statements in 2008 were? Only time will tell.