When the biennium state budget is passed shortly by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland, there'll be praise for the Republican leadership in the Senate, the Democatic leadership in the House and the Democratic governor for finding common ground on the highly controversial issue of the legalization of slot machines. But, there one legislator, in particular, who deserves credit for bringing the parties together: State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Liberty Township. Cafaro is the minority leader.
When it appeared more than a week ago that the governor's proposal to expand gambling by locating video lottery terminals in Ohio's seven horse-racing tracks was a budget deal-breaker for the Republicans in the Senate, Cafaro decided to pursue a compromise that would provide Democrats and Republicans with political cover on the issue of gambling.
A week ago Saturday, this blog gave the details of that compromise and suggested that it was the only way to end the impasse, short of huge cuts in funding social services or tax increases.
In meetings with the president of Senate, Bill Harris, and the governor and his top aides, Cafaro explained that there was a way to bridge the gap between Strickland's call for the legislature to pass a law making slot machines legal and the Republicans' demand that the governor sign an executive order — like he did with keno.
Neither was willing to risk having to be blamed for the expansion of gambling during next year's statewide election.
Friday's announcement that the governor would sign an executive order, but that the Senate and House would pass legislation paving the way for slots means that a biennium budget is in the offing.
While Sen. Cafaro insists that the agreement on the VLTs was the result of a bipartisan effort, her role deserves to be acknowledged — even by her detractors.