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Ohio Social Service Agencies Plead for Budget Fix

June 25, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is heading for sheer disaster, according to advocates for Ohio families, children and elderly, as they refer to Gov. Strickland's budget framework. It proposes to slice $2.43 billion in government services, on top of the nearly $2 billion in cuts already made. Services up for elimination include programs supporting poor families, the elderly, disabled, unemployed, young children and those requiring treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems.

Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, co-chair of the Campaign to Protect Ohio's Future, says these are essential safety-net services that are needed more than ever.

"The cuts will impact the lives of Ohio's most vulnerable citizens, who need so much help in these very, very severe economic times."

Channing Tenenbaum and others are asking lawmakers to find other ways to balance the state budget, which has a projected deficit of $3.2 billion. By law, the budget is supposed to be approved by June 30.

Margaret Hulbert, vice president of public policy with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, points out many of these services save the state money by preventing problems down the road.

"We have to figure out ways to fund things that we know work, that will cost us more later. That's the hidden fallacy in cutting budgets."

Social service agencies in the state are calling for increases in revenues to help Ohioans struggling in the economic downturn. While Strickland, House Speaker Budish, and Senate President Harris have said they don't want to raise taxes, some House Democrats are now supporting the idea.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH