Budget won’t benefit Ohio

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ohio’s lawmakers used a flawed budget process to approve an equally flawed budget.

Lawmakers signed off on the state’s $50.5 billion, two-year plan Monday and Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to OK the plan this week.

Not surprisingly, the plan was adopted in part because Democrats control the House of Representatives and Republicans only hold a slight edge in the Senate.

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This budget contains a number of fundamental flaws including relying on one-time federal funds to maintain ongoing programs, legalizes slot machines at the state’s seven racetracks and overhauls the funding system for public schools with a plan that still seems far from perfect.

The gambling proposal is a slap in the face to Ohio voters who have soundly defeated four initiatives in recent years and a proposal that will certainly prompt lawsuits.

However, there were several positive steps that included removing a tuition freeze at state colleges and universities in order to minimize cuts to state-funded public libraries and mental health agencies.

But perhaps most concerning is the haphazard way that lawmakers approached this financial dilemma.

The state has used two one-week temporary budgets to allow them time to argue over the details. The problem with these tight deadlines is that they really don’t allow for adequate discussion or evaluation of this ever-changing document.

Most lawmakers didn’t even get a copy of the 3,000-page document until Monday, just a few hours before being asked to vote on the measure.

This shows that the entire processed was flawed and, ultimately, it will be the taxpayers who pay for it as the state’s budget begins to show all these problems.