Only time will TEL

While the Ohio Governor’s primary isn’t until May, with the dropping out of State Senator Eric Fingerhut on Monday and Attorney General Jim Petro’s lagging poll numbers, it appears as though the respective parties’ nominees are set. And both sides have already begun to look forward to what is probably the most competitive governor’s race since 1982.

For the Democrats, Congressman Ted Strickland has a clear field in front of him with only token opposition remaining. A self-described centrist from southeast Ohio, the psychology professor turned congressman is the Dems’ highest profile candidate since 1986.

On the Republican side, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a self-proclaimed conservative, is the presumptive nominee with a 20-point lead over Petro. While currently slightly trailing behind Strickland in the polls (44-40 in the latest one), leads much bigger than four points have evaporated in a matter of days let alone months.

While this campaign could hinge on many diffuse issues, one of the early front-runners deserving additional observation is the TEL (tax and expenditure limitation) amendment, which was a major point of contention in a debate Saturday. The TEL amendment would cap the percentage at which state spending can increase at either 3.5 percent or the combined percentage rise in inflation and population, whichever is higher.

The effects of this amendment down the road remain unseen; however, such a cap would almost assuredly serve as a de facto funding cut for many state institutions as their budgets are predicted to rise at more than 3.5 percent. Not to mention that TEL is an attempt to skirt the responsibilities of actually having to govern by taking decisions regarding spending out of the hands of legislators.

Finally, TEL is very similar to many anti-spending amendment referendums proposed throughout the west in the past ten years, and that’s exactly the reason why Blackwell is pushing the amendment so hard. He seems to believe with such an amendment he can ride the anti-establishment/incumbent wave, which appears to be ready to sweep the state in November despite the fact the Republicans have been in charge of all three branches in Ohio since 1994.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the editorial board of the Daily Kent Stater.