Strickland: Education cuts may be necessary

Published 10:20 am Monday, December 29, 2008

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is warning that schools and public universities could see significant cuts without help from the federal government.

Money for schools has been spared to date despite three cuts to balance the current budget. But education cuts will be necessary if revenue projections for next year are accurate, Strickland told The Washington Post for a story Saturday.

Without federal dollars to help balance the state’s budget, ‘‘we’re talking about real job loss and significant reduction of support for K-12 and higher education,’’ Strickland said.

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The governor has already cut $1.9 billion from the current budget and protected education funding each time.

When he ordered the latest round of $640 million in cuts Dec. 19, the governor said the state’s budget picture was substantially worse than it was even 12 weeks ago.

With other governors, Strickland is seeking a $250 billion increase to states including Ohio for food stamps and Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for poor families.

He also wants $250 billion in federal aid to allow states to start on road, bridge, sewer and other projects they have ready to go.

Strickland plans to present his two-year budget early next year, which by law must be balanced.

Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey emphasized Sunday that no decisions have been made about the upcoming budget.

Strickland ‘‘will continue to make clear the tough choices he and the Legislature will need to make to maintain a balanced budget,’’ Dailey said in an e-mail.

‘‘Obviously, cuts could include reduced services that Ohioans rely on, including education,’’ he said. ‘‘But that is not the same thing as saying a decision has been made about cuts.’’

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