It appears Ohio legislators have a couple more days to work on the state budget. We urge them to use the time wisely. By that we mean they should continue to reject new taxes and should find a way to overrule Gov. Ted Strickland on legalized gambling.
State law required a spending plan be in place by July 1, the beginning of the two years covered by the current budget process. Fortunately, it does not specify the budget must cover the entire two years.
Still unable to come to agreement on the full two-year, $54 billion spending plan, lawmakers last week passed an interim budget. It is carrying the state through another week, requiring a complete budget be in place by Tuesday.
Strickland's proposal to expand legalized gambling seems to be the primary reason for delay. We don't blame lawmakers for seeking more time; it was only recently the governor dropped his gambling bombshell. After months of insisting he believes any expansion of gambling should be approved by Ohio voters, Strickland said he plans to allow the Lottery Commission to install slot machines at racetracks.
A substantial number of legislators disagree with him. They maintain that voter approval is necessary.
But rejecting the governor's plan is not a simple matter. He used it to plug a gap of about $933 million in the budget proposal. If members of the General Assembly block Strickland - as they should - they will have to find $933 million more in budget cuts to make up for loss of gambling revenue.
That will not be easy. Substantial, controversial cuts in spending are included in the Strickland budget plan. Reportedly, General Assembly members have found ways to ease some of the spending cut pain included in the governor's recommendation.
We hope so. And, again, we urge lawmakers to find a way to stop Stricklands plan to expand legalized gambling - and to reject new taxes.