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BLOG: PD's "PolitiFact" article on Strickland unfair and misleading

Tom Jackson • Jul 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has launched a feature called PolitiFact which purports to keep politicians honest by fact-checking their statements. But the newspaper's Sunday article on Ted Strickland is itself unfair and misleading. 

The newspaper labels as "False" the governor's statement that Ohio raised school funding by 5.5 percent in the last budget.

Aaron Marshall's article admits that the statement is factually correct — he writes, "it’s true that the total pot of money going to funding primary and secondary schools in Ohio will grow by 5.5 percent during the current two-year state budget." So to make the governor look bad, anyway, Marshall makes a big deal of the fact that Ohio got an infusion of federal money. 

Well, so what?

Every two years, lawmakers are required to write a budget. Each time, they use a mixture of federal and state money. 

It's true that onetime federal stimulus money helped, but state lawmakers trying to pass a budget also had to deal with a drastic decline in state tax revenue. 

Even with the infusion of federal money, coming up with a balanced budget was a very difficult task in 2009. Schools received more money, and practically everyone else (such as libraries and parks) got less, because of the choices made by the governor and state lawmakers. 

The governor and lawmakers chose to make education funding a priority. Whether that was a good idea is subject to debate, but that's what happened and it's not unreasonable for the governor to refer to that in his speeches.

Marshall's article implies that Strickland has hidden the fact that federal money made it easier to deal with the budget.

In fact, the governor has said over and over again that he's grateful Uncle Sam sent money, and that he wouldn't mind if Congress sent more.

Here's what he said, for example, in a July 17, 2009, press release, "Governor Signs FY 2010-2011 Budget Bill." 

"Much of what we have been able to accomplish in this budget would not have been possible without the leadership of President Barack Obama and the members of Ohio’s congressional delegation who supported the President’s stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The budget leverages more than $5 billion in federal stimulus resources for their intended purpose – to create and save jobs and prevent deeper cuts to critical services."

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