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Budget Compromise a “Gamble” for Struggling Ohioans?

July 14, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's delayed two-year budget will soon be a done deal, with lawmakers agreeing to video lottery terminals at race tracks as a way to raise revenues. Those who advocated for other revenue-enhancing options are expressing disappointment, as they say many programs and services that protect Ohio's most vulnerable citizens will still be eliminated.

The executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, says that instead of fighting over the lottery machines, budget discussions should have focused on assessing the needs of Ohio's citizens and finding solutions to ensure those needs are met.

"We're not going to gamble our way out of this budget deficit; we're going to need sufficient revenues to fund vital health and human services so our state can turn around and our economy can get back on track."

More than 2.5 billion dollars in state spending was cut in the budget compromise.

The co-chair of the Campaign to Protect Ohio's Future, Margaret Hulbert, says the budget package agreed on dismantles the public and private human services sector across the state.

"We're losing services which Ohioans need; drug and alcohol treatment, mental health care, child care for low income families, even just having enough food in the food pantries. Those are eliminated, and I don't think people yet know what's going to be happening."

Hulbert says budget-corrections negotiations are inevitable, and it's her hope that lawmakers will show leadership and develop a sound tax plan with revenue enhancements that will restore vital services.

Some opponents of tax increases contend that, with high unemployment, Ohio cannot depend on tax revenues to fund
services. Hulbert however says that 30 other states have raised revenues to meet critical needs in recent months.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH