Weakened State: Ohio Falls Short on Basic Services
March 3, 2011
With a looming gap between revenues and expenditures in the upcoming budget, there has been significant attention to likely spending cuts. It is easy to forget that Ohio’s state budget already has been squeezed, with major reductions to basic services that Ohioans expect from government. This paper reviews some state services that have eroded including the Board of Tax Appeals, where the caseload has tripled while 60 percent of staff have been axed; the Division of Weights and Measures where funding crashed by 81 percent from over a million dollars to just $200,000; the Division of Parks and Recreation where there’s been a 45 percent staff reduction, a $556 million backlog in maintenance, and proposals to drill and log on parkland; the Ohio Civil Rights Commission which has dropped from 199 to 94 employees with more cuts looming; the Ohio Ethics Commission which has seen an average 18 percent annual increase in cases amid a 19 percent decline in funding; the Environmental Review Appeals Commission where staff has fallen from 14 to 2; and our libraries, known as the nation’s best, where funding has been chopped by 23 percent, and libraries have reduced hours, closed branches, reduced purchasing, cut programming, shed staff, and shifted reliance to local (and inequitable) levies.