More Cuts Coming? Or Strategically Lowering Expectations?
Ohio Budget Director Tim Keen has been in the news this week after telling state agencies to give scenarios based on no cuts – based on the current budget – in the coming budget or 10% cuts. Let’s just start right off and say that 10% cuts are huge, particularly given the substantial cuts, especially to education and local government, in the current budget. So is the Governor trying to set low expectations so that people feel good about their arm being cut off because they got to keep their head? That’s, sadly, a pretty good approximation of what happened in the last round.
With today’s ACA ruling, and the expansion of Medicaid still in question, what happens around the state budget will be very interesting in the coming months. Especially after such big hits – $1.8 billion to K-12 education and $1 billion to local governments – a lot of people are hoping for some relief in the year to come. Unfortunately, if the Mid-Biennium Review is any indication, it doesn’t appear the Governor or current legislature have any intention of closing the major gaps that have led to teachers and firefighters being laid off and potholes and swimming pools around the state going unfilled.
The Plain Dealer’s Aaron Mashall called this the “first brick in the wall for the next operating budget.” We should all be speaking up to ensure that there aren’t more cuts coming, and instead we have a full conversation about what resources we need in the state and how we pay for them.