the Beacon Journal editorial board

During the campaign season, candidates and their friends often fall into loose talk. Then, some go too far. Count Keith Faber, the Ohio Senate president, among them. The Celina Republican didn’t say anything nasty. He told a version of the past that departs from reality.

Faber spoke recently to a gathering of Republicans in Van Wert County. According to the Van Wert Independent, he reminded his audience about the dire economic conditions four years ago, suggesting that then Gov. Ted Strickland somehow engineered the devastating job losses of the Great Recession. He then boasted about John Kasich and other Republicans fixing the troubled state economy.

“We didn’t go down the old path of tax more, spend more,” Faber said. “We did the opposite. An $8.5 billion budget hole was closed by cuts. By hard decisions.”

For starters, the budget hole wasn’t that big, and Strickland, along with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, reduced spending sharply as part of keeping the budget in balance during tough times. The whopper, in this instance, involves Faber claiming that Republicans relied solely on spending cuts to perform the task.

Actually, they made heavy use of reclaiming revenue, for instance, backing away from a commitment to reimburse schools for losses due to earlier tax cuts and slashing funds that long had been routed to local governments. More, the budget-balancing involved leveraging additional federal money through Medicaid, plus refinancing debt and a few onetime money tricks.

“Hard decisions”? It hardly takes political bravery to cut taxes, and contrary to what Faber indicated to his audience, the tax changes in the current state budget and those going back to 2005 have favored the wealthy, the top 1 percent with an average tax cut of $20,477 a year while the bottom 60 percent of Ohioans have experienced a slight tax increase.

Then, there is the chamber that Faber leads. Senate spending has climbed from $21.85 million in 2010-11 to $25.46 million in the current biennium. Not exactly a reduction.