Budget plan gives Ohio a blueprint

Published 9:50 am Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whether it was by design or by necessity, Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Legislature were forced to challenge the status quo and make drastic changes to how the state operates if they wanted to have any chance of implementing a budget that bridges at least a $6 billion gap.

After the Republican-led House approved a $56 billion budget plan Wednesday, it awaits the governor’s signature today, one day before the required deadline to have a balanced budget in place.

Much like the old spaghetti Western film, the new budget contains “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

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Overall, it is a positive step forward for the state because it creates a streamlined spending plan that doesn’t rely on billions of dollars in one-time federal bailout funds.

Perhaps leading the list of “Good” attributes is the fact that the governor and lawmakers were able to bridge this gap without raising taxes.

The plan also removes the unfair and archaic estate tax and implements a plan that will hopefully spur investment and job growth right here at home.

On the “Bad” side, would be tough cuts to local governments that will be hard to swallow when coupled with the loss of the estate tax. These are likely needed but should have been phased in over a longer period.

Just downright “Ugly” is the fact that even increased funding to the public school systems will leave a large gap because of the loss of federal funding.

Plus, the state’s prison systems will be privatized without a clear blueprint as to how taxdollars will be spent and how the operators will be held accountable.

But no one realistically could expect drafting a budget this year would be easy or painless.

Considering the economy and the mess both parties have made in recent years, Ohio looks to have a strong foundation for the next two years.