The editorial board at The Lantern congratulates Governor-elect John Kasich, but our welcome is only lukewarm.
As journalists, we will forever be skeptical of public leaders. Kasich has no immunity to that. But as students, many of us also have good reason to be downright scared. It has nothing to do with party affiliation — if former Gov. Ted Strickland kept his seat, our fears would be just as well-founded. Students in Ohio should be scared because our heads are on the chopping block.
Kasich and other state lawmakers will face an expected $8 billion state budget deficit next year. If the governor-elect has aspirations to do more than twiddle his thumbs in office, one of his major priorities will be to balance the budget. It will require more than tightening a few belts, more than a trim. It’s going to mean that lawmakers will lop limbs off of state-funded programs, just to make a dent.
When politicians look at the biggest budget-drainers, they will inevitably stop when they see higher education. It isn’t cheap. If they can pass the cost onto students, they will.
Don’t let them.
Neither Kasich nor Strickland visited Ohio State to meet with students and really listen to our concerns. Now, Kasich, you have to earn our trust: Don’t just commit to “affordable” higher education. Commit to no tuition increases and commit to better incentives to keep us in the state after we graduate.
Many current college students will graduate during Kasich’s term. If the state is kind to us, we will be more likely to be kind to the state. A tuition freeze could be the difference between fresh blood pumping into Ohio’s economy and the crippling effect of brain drain.
You beat your opponent in a fair campaign, but he had one advantage — he had proved his commitment to keeping us in school. He kept tuition frozen for most of his time in office.
Now it’s your turn, and we’ll be watching.