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Strickland: Ohio Budget Not in Good Shape

Ted Strickland looked at the state revenue figures and says it's time to make some difficult decisions.

Ted Strickland: There won't be a lot of money. We've got to look for tradeoffs and determine priorities.

Recent tax breaks made by the lame duck state legislature will mean the new Governor will have 6/10 of one percent less purchasing power in the fiscal year starting July first than this year. That's one-to-1-1/2 billion dollars less than Bob Taft had predicted.

Strickland's priorities are evident by his meetings: yesterday morning at 7:30 he met with an Ohio company CEO about retaining jobs. At 8:30 he met with officials from the Gates Foundation about education. Two days ago he discussed health care with Senator Voinovich. He wants to invest in education, health care, and economic development but sees income tax revenue dropping the next few years. He'll meet with university presidents Monday about streamlining.

Ted Strickland: I think we need to work on a system of higher education that could result in savings by having our universities work together in terms of purchasing supplies and energy and technologies - rather than operating totally as isolated or independent institutions.

The Governor will likely be the person that names the new Chancellor giving him much more power to shape higher education in Ohio. He's leaning toward the notion of establishing certain centers of excellence so that some schools will likely have to drop programs that are already available at other schools. Strickland talks the same way about a state a health care system. He's intrigued with insurance plans being tried in Massachusetts and California and he wants Ohio to get in on a new federal initiative.

Ted Strickland: Which would allow a number of states, perhaps 10 states, to seek and receive federal waivers in an attempt to make the states laboratories for ways to expand health care coverage to people who do not have it.

Strickland wants state government to be more efficient and will allow flexibility to his cabinet members to reach certain goals. But cutting back is not what the new governor had in mind. He called himself an advocate for education, health care and economic development. He told reporters about the interrelationship of those priorities when he met with officials from Rolls Royce in Virginia Tuesday hoping to attract a new plant to Ohio.

Ted Strickland: The questions that I received had more to do with education and how we're going to make sure a highly skilled workforce is available to this company if it were to choose Ohio. It was stark. Some of the questions we got and some of the answers we had to give weren't questions or answers that caused us to feel good about ourselves.

Governor Strickland never mentioned tax hikes and instead says he will work under the constraints that the legislature has set.