Budget Director Says He And Governor Not At Odds Over Key Economic Stat Cited In Budget Process

Feb 6, 2017

Gov. John Kasich has warned this will be a difficult budget process, but has also touted the progress Ohio has made under tax reforms he wants to continue in his final budget. And comparing his statements with those from his budget director almost appear to be examples of “alternative facts”. But the budget director's office has a clarification.

At an Associated Press forum for reporters, Kasich cited several examples of economic development, and sounded off when asked if his income tax cuts have worked to bring back thousands of jobs lost during the 2008 recession.

“800,000 [jobs] turnaround? Are you kidding me? Wages growing faster than the national average? Going from 40 ranked in the country from wanting to do business to the top 10?" Kasich said.  "It’s just – you can write what you want and I’ll respect it, but I won’t agree with it. You’re entitled to your own opinion, as somebody once said, but not to your own facts.”

But his budget director Tim Keen had a different take in his testimony on the budget before the House Finance Committee, when he said wage and salary income fell in Ohio in the last two fiscal years and is projected to fall in the coming fiscal year.

“This slower wage and salary growth in the US, where growth was 5.3% and 4.6%, and is currently expected to be 4.6% in 2017.”

The Office of Budget and Management says these statements are technically both correct, since wage and salary growth can be calculated in several ways. Keen was asked if it’s misleading for Kasich to be using one statistic and Keen to cite another. “I don’t think so. Both statements are accurate. Both statements are accurate.”

As the budget process has ramped up, the governor and his budget director have made other statements that appeared to be contradictory. Kasich told the House in December that the state was – quote – “on the verge of recession”. But GDP is up and the unemployment rate was steady last month. Keen has said the state is not in recession, but that slow growth rates make it “look and feel like a recession”.