I had a conversation with a man early in my campaign who was very angry about government waste, taxes and spending. He said that the $70 billion budget signed by the Governor was a travesty. “That is simply too much money!”
My question to him was this: What is the right number? Would $60 billion be too much? Or $20 billion?
Naturally there was no perfect answer to that question, but I understand his frustration at paying taxes and having no real idea about where the money is going, or if it is doing any good. I wanted to remind him that the roads we drive on, the police and fire departments that keep us safe, the Federal Aviation Administration that keeps planes in the air, the school we went to, the college or trade school where we trained for our career, the bridges we drive over, the parks where we play, the judicial system that protects our rights and freedoms, the public health system that keeps our families safe from epidemics, and the public beaches and waterways are all parts of that government budget.
So how much is too much to spend on government? I can’t put a number on it, but I have an answer. Public expenditures should ensure that everyone has an opportunity to achieve their highest potential without unnecessary barriers. Government budgets built around those ideals will be an investment in a stronger future rather than a burden on society.
Imagine that a young child is born in Central Ohio. She has the mind and personality that could someday make her a successful surgeon. She could go on to save thousands of lives throughout her career, and influence hundreds of young interns to a higher level of care than they could have achieved without her. To reach that potential, that child will need clean water to drink, clean air to breath and clean food to eat. She will need the protection of police and fire departments. She will need good schools and affordable higher education. She will need parents who can earn a living wage so that they have time to read to her at night, take her to the zoo on the weekends and so they can live in a safe and nurturing neighborhood.
The lack of any of these factors could limit her ability to reach her greatest potential.
Some children have the potential to be great chefs, artists, carpenters and/or parents. If we support the individuals, we in-turn support the entire community, and we all benefit. Your life may be saved by the surgeon that child becomes. Your house may be built by that carpenter. But we will never know if they drop out of an under-performing high school because their parents are working double shifts to pay the rent.
So how much should we be spending on government? We will need to figure that out together. The guideline I will use on every bill that faces me is a two question test:
Does the expenditure provide a benefit to Ohioans?
Does it remove barriers so that our citizens can maximize their potential?
I am curious about your thoughts. Let me know.