Balancing the Budget in Ohio

With a looming (up to) $8M deficit in Ohio’s budget, the folks over at the Columbus Dispatch have given their readers a chance to “do the budget dance” themselves with a little interactive tool. This tool will let readers try to balance Ohio’s budget by removing different subsidies, raising or lowering taxes, and cutting or increasing spending.

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Jill Miller Zimon

Thanks for posting that tool, Angelo. I’m in a small NE Ohio city council and also saw link to a spreadsheet tool to “balance” the Ohio budget – I want to adapt it for my small city because we too are facing serious budget constraints (again!).

The spreadsheet is in the box with hyperlink text and is called “worksheet.”

Candace Riddle

Wow…I would completely fail as Governor. I still had a deficit….and when I raised taxes and cut costs…Truckers, Tobacco Farmers, and the Mentally Ill were threatening to have me lynched in the next day’s headlines.

Lee Vigue

Unfortunately, even if you come to within +/- $10M – which is politically achievable either way – the headline still shows you fail… *sigh* Sounds a lot like reality…

Sterling Whitehead

Great idea. First, the national government budget. Now a state budget. I’d love to see more budget balancing puzzles pop up for each state and even local governments. These are easy to use puzzles that really help citizens see the big picture.

Debby Landry

Tried several times to “balance” the budget. Definitely not easy and some of the choices really are a no win…it would be hard to do this to me because you must divorce your feelings when deciding what to cut or raise taxes.

G. Hussain Chinoy

I think the most telling part of it all are the auto-generated oppositional headlines. I second @Anna Abbey’s link – great visualization and very illuminating. If only our representatives allowed that level of interactivity.

Royce G. Rhoades

I do not understand their math. When I provided all the numbers, my calculations show that I had a $3.15B revenue surplus and the site says my choices provided a $4.6B deficit. I hope whoever is doing the math on the site is not in charge of the state budget. Than again, maybe that is why they are in that shape.

Megan Price

I thought this was fun…and confirmed that I should never run for public office. It is way to hard to pick and choose what programs should be cut, cleaned up or what taxes should or shouldn’t be raised. Here are my terrible results:

Governor fails; budget crisis continues

Fiscal watchdogs scoff at governor’s ‘abject’ failure

The governor today handed Ohio’s lawmakers a proposed state budget with a deficit of $7.45 billion.

The plan fails to meet the state Constitution’s requirement for a balanced budget, and key members of the House and Senate declared it ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dead on arrival’ at the Statehouse.”

Peter Sperry

I found it interesting and was able to reach a surplus with choices I would make regardless of the state’s financial situation (pasted below). As for the negative headlines – they come with the territory. Trying to please everyone is a recipe for disaster.

Governor’s budget plan more than erases deficit
Taxpayers howl as governor suggests big state surplus

The governor today gave the General Assembly a proposed state budget with a surplus of $4.29 billion.

The plan brought immediate objections from lawmakers and a host of interest groups, especially those representing taxpayers, who excoriated the governor for seeking to raise a surplus ‘during the worst recession in two generations.’

Tomorrow’s headlines if you were governor:

  • School leaders hail governor for sparing basic education
  • Northern Ohio lawmakers pledge to stall governor’s sale of Turnpike
  • Lawsuit seeks to halt sale of lottery operations
  • Governor’s building sales would hurt state in long run, experts say
  • Activists say governor’s budget ‘protects rich,’ hurts mentally ill
  • Stung by cuts, big-city mayors unite to denounce governor

    Police and fire departments face ‘devastation,’ they say

  • Clergy condemn governor’s ‘sinful’ cutbacks for poor

Your choices

  • Taxes
  • No tax options were selected.
  • Spending
  • Aid to cities & towns: Eliminate aid (saves $1.3 billion)
  • Aid to libraries: Cut aid by 10% (saves $75 million)
  • Medicaid: End optional coverage for dental, vision, podiatry and hospice (saves $1 billion)
  • Department of Mental Health: Cut by 10% (saves $90 million)
  • Sell or lease state assets
  • Sell state lottery to private operator (raises $5 billion, but ends lottery revenue)
  • Sell some state buildings, then lease them back (raises $800 million, but requires future rent payments)
  • Lease Ohio Turnpike to private operator (raises $4 billion, but tolls would rise and nearby roads would get more traffic)
  • Allow oil and gas drilling on state land (raises $25 million)
  • Your budget results
  • You have a budget surplus of $4.29 billion.
Nina Pasini Deibler

This is a great idea and I can see numerous learning applications for this tool and derivatives. It would be a fabulous tool for group discussions in civics / social studies / political science / economics / sociology courses. I ended up with a $0.294 Billion surplus, some good headlines (saving libraries and K-12) and some bad ones (cutting medicaid and prisons), but these are real-life choices that not only politicians have to make, but citizens make in their own budgets every day.