Assembly Candidates Should Take Stand: Will Ohio Raise Taxes Or Will Ohio Cut State Services?

Yesterday Martin Gottlieb in his DDN commentary complained, “What a snore the ‘races’ for county office have been in Montgomery County.”

Gottlieb should have included in his indictment the five races in the county for the Ohio House (Ohio House Districts 36 – 40) and the one county race for Ohio Senate (the 6th).  Gottlieb’s question — Where’s the fire? — is a great question.  Why aren’t the candidates for the State Assembly debating the real issue each Assembly member will eventually need to take a stand on:  How to solve the Ohio’s huge budget crisis?

Ohio budget expert, Richard Sheridan, writing in November’s State Budgeting Matters says that hard choices await Ohio’s new State Assembly when it prepares the next state budget.  Ohio is experiencing a huge shortfall in revenue and the next Assembly will need to choose to either raise taxes or to make deep cuts in Ohio’s social services.

Ohio’s financial emergency should be the focus of the State Assembly races, but no candidate is talking about it and no one in the media is challenging Assembly candidates to deal with the issue.  See Ohio Budget Expert, Richard Sheridan: “Ohio’s Budget Problems Are A Long Way From Being Solved And One-Time Fixes Have Dried Up”

And see, Chris Widener, Republican Senate Candidate, Boasts About Tax Cuts, But How Will He Solve Ohio’s Budget Crisis?

Sheridan says that Ohio is not alone, that at least 28 other states are facing a severe budget crunch.  Sheridan says, “The pattern is to first use up budget reserves, layoff some state employees, and then cut non-education and non-human services spending. As budget problems worsen, education and human services programs then face the chopping blocks.”

Sheridan quotes The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which is regularly tracking state budget problems.  The Center notes that 22 states have taken actions that reduce services to their residents, especially their most vulnerable families and individuals:

  • “For example, at least 14 states have implemented or are considering cuts that will affect low-income children’s or families’ eligibility for health insurance or reduce their access to health care services.
  • Programs for the elderly and disabled are also being cut.
  • At least 11 states are cutting medical, rehabilitative, home care, or other services needed by low-income people who are elderly or have disabilities, or significantly increasing the cost of these services.
  • At least 13 states are cutting or proposing to cut K-12 and early education; several of them are also reducing access to child care and early education, and at least 17 states have implemented or proposed cuts to public colleges and universities.
  • In addition, at least 19 states have proposed or implemented reductions to their state workforce. Workforce reductions often result in reduced access to services residents need. They also add to states’ woes by contracting the state economy.”
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