The feud between the governor and Republican lawmakers is coming because of a clause in the governor’s two-year budget proposal that gives Strickland’s budget director Pari Sabety, the authority to spend, as she sees fit, additional stimulus money the state may win through competitive grants.
“It’s nothing against the director, we just don’t want to put that much power in one person’s hands,” Carey said.
The battle comes at a time when Ohio Republicans have seen their influence diminish with the change of power in the state, while at the same time Strickland is attempting to follow a plan of spending stimulus money quickly.
Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said the governor was simply asking the legislature for permission to move quickly.
One point of contention is the governor’s plan to possibly go after federal money for a rail system connecting Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
The Ohio Department of Transportation must have legislative approval to seek $250 million in federal competitive grants for rail projects, and Republicans want to make sure Strickland doesn’t give himself the ability to bypass the full legislature in pursuing a favored public policy objective.
According to the Associated Press, Ohio Republicans are calling for Sabety to resign. They claim Sabety made multiple erroneous economic forecasts affecting cuts to the current two-year budget and the administration has failed to turn over a financial report for the 2008 fiscal year to state auditor for her audit of state finances.
They say the budget plan initially presented to lawmakers ended up being out of balance because of changes in the federal stimulus package. They are also concerned that the federal government may not allow the state to spend education stimulus dollars as part of a school funding reform plan in the next two-year budget.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.