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Unbalanced budget disaster deepens as current fiscal shortfall climbs

Fiscal shortfall passes $1 billion
May 3, 2017
Democrat Newsroom

Following Tuesday’s House passage of an unbalanced two-year state budget bill, the Kasich Administration today released the latest tax revenues for the current fiscal year, showing Ohio’s stumbling economy resulted in a nearly $160 million shortfall for April 2017 alone.

Ohio’s fiscal shortfall during the course of one year now climbs to negative $1.057 billion under GOP leadership. Today’s revenue returns suggest a serious financial problem for the state now, even before the upcoming state budget is finalized in June.

“Ohioans are looking to their elected leaders in Columbus to confront the greatest challenges facing our state – the opioid addiction crisis claiming thousands of lives each year, an unconstitutional funding model for our public schools, rising infant mortality and falling wages – but the state cannot afford to make meaningful progress to grow the middle class after years of tax-shifting have blown a hole in our fiscal future,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton).

In the midst of budget negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year, Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the bill to maintain a stable, balanced budget for 2018 and 2019. Still, Tuesday’s final House version of the state budget, House Bill 49, fell hundreds of millions of dollars short of being a balanced budget bill by that measure. 

It is unclear if Ohio Republicans will make a new call for even steeper cuts or tax increases to account for the dropping revenues.

“The jobs and growth that Republicans and Governor Kasich promised us simply haven’t come true in Ohio,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the lead Democratic member on the House budget committee. “Now, all we have to show for six years of their policies is weaker schools, weaker communities and higher taxes on homeowners, seniors, local taxpayers and working people. Taxpayers deserve a simple answer as to whether Republicans will raise taxes or gut essential services and programs to make ends meet.”

Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, Ohio families bring home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, and close to 30 percent of Ohio jobs are low wage, paying less than poverty wages.

House Democratic lawmakers have called for a bipartisan oversight commission, The Budget Management and Stabilization Commission, to investigate the cause of Ohio’s missing money and to ensure the state budget is structurally balanced and stable.