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Ohioans Mobilize to Support a Middle Road for the State Budget

June 4, 2009

Columbus, OH – Hundreds of Ohioans are expected to flood the Statehouse lawn today, trying to gain the attention of lawmakers who are battling it out over ways to balance the upcoming two-year budget. They're employees and supporters of the state's various health and human service organizations, and they're holding a rally to encourage policymakers to focus budget resources on maintaining social services that keep the workforce, families and communities strong.

What they hope to underscore, says Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, is that balancing the state budget cannot be done through cuts alone.

"We have got to solve the state fiscal crisis by using what we believe is a balanced approach. That is going to include increasing revenues, not only to fully fund health and human services, but also to support a growing number of Ohioans who are struggling with this economy."

Hamler-Fugitt says with rising unemployment and hunger, Ohio is already ground zero for the deepening recession.

"In order for Ohio to weather this storm, we have to ensure that basic human needs, such as food, shelter and healthcare, are provided for a growing number of Ohioans who never thought they would be in this situation."

Ohio's projected deficit in the next two-year budget is between $1 million and $2 million. The current cuts being proposed include healthcare for some children and uninsured adults, and services that provide care for persons with disabilities, those with mental illnesses and at-risk infants.

The rally begins at noon on the west lawn of the Statehouse. The legislature has until June 30 to approve a budget; Governor Strickland has signaled that tax increases are not on the table.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH