Life is different for legislators in the minority party than it is for those in the majority who have actual responsibility. It's a fundamental rule of politics.
I recall talking to Rep. Brad Sherman in early 2007, just after Democrats had regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 midterm elections. I asked Sherman how he was adjusting to life in the majority, and he acknowledged that it required changing his mindset. Now when he wrote a bill, Sherman deadpanned, he had to pay attention to what was actually in it. "Before, I thought a bill was just an attachment to a press release," he joked.
Those words came to mind today when a reader sent along a letter from Sen. Tony Strickland in response to a constituent who complained about cuts to education included in this year's state budget. Strickland was one of 11 stalwart Republican senators who held out against the budget deal because it included some temporary tax increases.
But because he was in the minority party, Strickland had the luxury of opposing both the tax increases and the budget cuts. He voted against the budget that included the tax increases, and he voted against the bill the implemented the tax increases. And when the trailer bill came along that implemented the cuts in education funding, he voted against that, too.
"Please be assured I will continue to oppose cuts to education because the state's greatest asset - our children - will be the future workforce essential in reviving our economy," Strickland wrote.
Perhaps if Strickland is ever in the majority party, he will explain how it's possible to sustain funding to education, avoid tax increases and also keep the state budget in balance all at the same time.