Your weekend budget headlines – 7/3/11

As the new state budget goes into effect, we surveyed some of the papers from around the state.

First, one sweeping impact of this budget is the mass sell-off of state assets to the private sector, allowing investment banks to make a killing, Ohio and its cities to get a lump of one-time cash, and Ohioans, in the long run, paying more to get less:

Ohio begins selling off its assets to raise cash
Dayton Daily News, July 1, 2011

The budget contains provisions to let public college and universities sell and lease-back dormitories and other buildings such as athletic facilities, to let counties sell and lease-back buildings and parking decks, and to allow cities to lease out their parking meters and garages.

While there are some talking in broad strokes about the reforms contained in this budget, let’s be honest. It didn’t reform local government, it simply takes money away from schools and local governments and makes it their task to figure out how to accomplish reform. Many of the stories we read feature local officials explaining that the tools are not there to accomplish any meaningful reform to save the type of money that is cut in this budget. Instead, most are looking at tax increases or service cuts.

Local governments prepare to cut services
Dayton Daily News, July 3, 2011

“I don’t see anything in the state budget that will save us money, help us do things differently,” said Montgomery County Administrator Deborah Feldman.

She expects to have to cut up to $12 million out of the county’s 2012 budget because of the loss of state money and the loss of property taxes due to the decline in property values countywide in the 2011 update by Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith. She said revenues are expected to be down to about $128 million next year, compared to $158 million in 2008.

“I do not believe we can cut our budget another 10 to 12 million without services suffering,” Feldman said.

Ohioans embrace new reality: Local governments brace for state budget cuts
Cincinnati Enquirer, July 3, 2011

“Our general fund is being torn to shreds,” said Delhi Township Trustee Jerome Luebbers, a former state legislator who was known as one of the most conservative Democrats in the Ohio House. Asking voters for more tax dollars is probably a forlorn hope, Luebbers said. That means cutting services, trimming staff and imposing fees on a lot of things township residents are able to use for free now, such as the parks and recreational facilities and the senior center.

Are more levies, service cuts ahead?
Chillicothe Gazette, July 2, 2011
“They can say they balanced the budget without raising taxes, but that remains to be seen,” Spetnagel said. “You’re going to see levies popping up everywhere, including some places that we haven’t seen a need for levies before. And that means it’s going to affect some communities harder than others.”

Winners, losers in $112 billion Ohio budget bill
Canton Repository, June 30, 2011
The Stark County Department of Jobs and Family Services’ Child Support Enforcement Agency, with less funding and staff, is expected to take longer to find deadbeat parents and compel them to make child support payments. The department’s deputy director of business services, Larry Davis, said that in anticipation of cuts, the department has laid off 32 people — 14 in child support enforcement, nine who help process applications for Medicaid, food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and nine support workers who help protect children from abuse.

Summit County sheriff may cut sex offender unit due to projected budget cuts
WEWS-TV, June 30, 2011
Detective John Rood hits the streets every day to check if sex offenders are following the law- living where they say they live. [...] He’s worried if sex offenders realize they’re no longer on the radar, more sex crimes could occur.

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