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Pulling Back On The Budget With Less Money Coming In, And Ohio's Prisons Director Speaks Out

The state’s budget is starting to look increasingly wobbly, as lawmakers are working on their version of Gov. John Kasich’s spending plan. March’s tax revenue came in below estimates again, so now the total shortfall for this fiscal year is now $615 million – more than half a billion dollars. That prompted Kasich to make a big announcement this week.

High schools around the state are growing increasingly concerned as about a third of this year’s juniors may not graduate next year. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, leaders are scrambling to find a way to remedy the approaching crisis.

There are more than 50,000 inmates in Ohio’s prisons.  The $67 billion dollar sets aside $3.6 billion for its 27 prisons - that’s 5% of the budget. And 12,214 people work in the prisons department – that’s 25% of the entire state workforce. The man in charge of all of these people and all this money is Gary Mohr, the director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. And he wants less money to be going to his agency, because he wants to be in charge of fewer inmates – and he says he’ll walk away before he’ll ok the construction of another prison. In fact, he’s backing a plan in the budget to pay counties to take about 4,000 low-level, non-violent felons and put them in local facilities and programs to keep them out of the prison system.