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

Tom Jackson
Jul 28, 2010


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."





I think most people would agree with the PoliFact:

State aid to schools will actually be lower by about $32 million--from $6.542 billion in 2009 to $6.510 billion in 2011. On a district-by-district level, that means about 60 percent of the more than 600 school districts in Ohio will get less money for operations in the current two-year budget cycle than they did before.

Instead, it’s federal money, including stimulus funding dollars which makes the statewide school funding pie bigger. And a large portion of the federal funding for primary and secondary education must be funneled into very specific programs such as $922 million statewide in combined federal Title I and IDEA funding.

Captain Gutz

"So what?"  indeed.


It's not State money, it's not Federal money, it's money.

It comes from taxes.


Thanks Tom for showing your political stance , which I'm pretty certain is in line with this paper. No surprises, just a confirmation.

Kottage Kat

I just love "fair and unbiased".

hussein membrane

 Note to Brian DuBious,

This is what real blogging looks like. See how Tom took sources other than the paper he works for and then commented on them within a fact rich environment? See how he didn't interject off-topic hot-button buzzwords? 

Now you try.

Julie R.

Strickland's unfair and misleading himself.............

Tom Jackson


What does this have to do with my "political stance?" 


Tom Jackson


Let's go back to what the governor actually said. He said that state officials "invested in our children, raising school funding by 5.5 percent in the last budget."

School funding was in fact raised 5.5 percent, using a mix of state and federal money. School districts always are funded by a mix of state and federal money. You can argue that the governor left out the facts that made the picture less rosy (as all politicians do, regardless of whether they are Democrats, Republicans or Libertarians) but you can't flatly say the governor's statement was "false." That's my point.


brutus smith

 Just what we need is another "factually correct" right wingnut (Aaron Marshall) writing factually incorrect rants.

Julie R.

Mr. Jackson is right. You can't flatly say that the governor's statement was "false" when all he did was leave out the facts that made the picture less rosy.

In other words, like all politicians, regardless if they are Democrats, Republicans or Libertarians, their statements are meant to be misleading.


Tom J -

And you write a whole blog defending this kind of parsing by our politicians. Why? You're a good writer. Being blinding by partisan politics makes for boring reading.