Balancing Ohio’s Budget
January 3, 2011
A commentary in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch discusses an interactive tool on the paper’s website that lets readers attempt the tricky job of balancing the state’s budget—something that the new governor will be forced to tackle soon:
We’ve reported that the choices for Gov.-elect John Kasich are not pleasant. The state spends most of its money on education, health care for the poor and disabled, and prisons. Any cut usually means reduced services to those with the least ability to provide for themselves. And Kasich insists he won’t raise taxes and doesn’t want one-time grants from Uncle Sam to solve the state’s problems.
So that you can better understand how difficult the choices for the new governor and Republican-controlled legislature will be as they work to pass a balanced budget by the end of June, a team of folks here created an interactive tool that allows you the chance to take a stab at balancing the budget.
You can find it at dispatch.com/budget. I tried it, and managed to balance the budget while generating a $260 million surplus.
Of course, had I made those choices as governor, I’d never be re-elected. I would have angered just about every constituency in the Buckeye State. But the exercise did force me to reveal my personal priorities: Do I cut money for colleges or the elderly?
I tried out the calculator and was also able to balance the budget with a surplus (I was especially happy to check the box for privatizing the state-run lottery), but I didn’t feel smug for very long: The calculator has a feature that shows the user some of the unpleasant headlines that would appear in the news if he or she were actually governor and submitted the fake budget.