|Gov. John Kasich in the Ohio Statehouse|
So called lame-duck sessions are news worthy because of what can happen when lawmakers, some of whom may not be back in the new year, scheme to pass bills that maybe never had a hearing in committee or were passed out of committee, are brought back from the dead by lawmakers who fear no repercussions from their constituents and will vote for all manner of bills that benefit one special interest over another.
Next year's new governor, whether its Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine or Democratic candidate Richard Cordray, may inherit a legislative landscape they could only watch from afar as neither can effect what Ohio's 132nd lawmaker class does before they take office.
By his own design, with the acquiescence of a GOP-led legislature, Gov. John Kasich turned a two-year budget cycle into a one-year budget cycle when he started his mid-biennium review. This scheme effectively created two one-year budget cycles. The benefit of such a scheme is that since a budget cycle is about appropriating money, challenges to anything in it via citizen referendum is prohibited, enabling all manner of bad policy to be signed into law without public hearings or comments. Legislative leaders relish the weeks after an election and before year's end to throw everything that couldn't pass muster before into a giant bill where important matters easily are lost among the trees of this thick forest.
Kasich has continued to pursue his fantasy quest to be president despite two losses, the first in 2000 and the last in 2016, that he ignores because state and national media love to feature even though they all know his chances of being taken seriously, in ways that differ from his two campaign crucifixions so far. Looking for his next gig, Kasich spent large portions of 2015-2016 campaigning out of state. Even thought he national election that Donald Trump won two years ago wafts in the wind, Kasich, like The Donald, looks back to his losing campaign as if it's a prequel to his next anticipated run.
Soon to be out of office and wandering past the graveyard of fallen and forgotten politicos, Kasich could be an accomplice for good or evil this fall, depending on what lame-duck lawmakers bring to his desk as they pack the concluded weeks of the year with any number of partisan bills that the next governor and General Assembly will have to grapple with, that may help or hurt the agenda they ran on.
While Kasich is now very much of a one-trick pony preaching his "find meaning in life sermon where and when he can, as he did at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard recently, the end of his eight years in office brings a thunderstorm of scandals and policy picks that would make him a lame-duck leader the likes of which Ohio has rarely seen. Any number of categories——from budgets to women and workers to for-profit charter schools, taxes, voter suppression and healthcare—are bad enough as they are without further complications from what outgoing lawmakers will send him that he'll sign into law to cement his legacy as a performance politician whose ego, as big as the great outdoors, refuses to acknowledge that he's past prime-time.
Who wins or loses on November 6th of this year will dominate headlines. Those same headlines will be trumped by the back-room scheming so essential to how elected officials handle their responsibility when voters can't see and can't vote on what happens before the new year arrives.
Beware Buckeyes, your worst days could still be ahead of you. And don't count on Ohio media to inform you better than they already have.