Cuts must be balanced with needs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2011

Everyone agrees that Ohio must cut expenses as it tries to fill the nearly $8 billion budget deficit. The disagreement comes over who gets cut.

New Gov. John Kasich has his work cut out for him as he attempts to drastically change the status quo and correct problems that have been allowed to go unchecked for years, and even decades, by administrations of both political parties.

Inevitably, many groups and organizations are going to be upset over the cuts that are proposed.

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It would be impossible to cut this level of spending without upsetting someone. But the reality is the money simply isn’t there and we cannot continue to point toward our neighbors as the one whose fat can be trimmed.

A local example is the Ohio River Valley Youth Correctional Facility. The youth prison appears to be on the chopping block and is slated to close this fall, costing more than 300 local men and women their jobs. Our hearts go out to these Ohioans. We hope something can be done to save these jobs or repurpose the facility .

However, as it is currently structured, it doesn’t make sense to spend more than $20 million to employ 300 people to take care of roughly 800 youth. It is obvious that something has to be done to make this investment of tax dollars more efficient.

Another proposal that may hurt locally is the plan to cut Local Government Funds by 50 percent over the next two years. Even though a plan is in place to minimize the impact, this will cost Lawrence County more than a half million dollars. We understand that these changes have to happen and local government has to find a way to stand on its own.

However, we think 50 percent over the next two years is too much, too fast. We hope lawmakers look for a way of stepping this in a little slower in order to provide local leaders the time to make necessary changes with the most minimal impact to services.

Cuts this deep will be painful, but Ohio must do something to stop bleeding.