Ohio’s revenue experienced a billion dollar drop in two short months due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, Governor Mike DeWine has made drastic across-the-board budget cuts. The cuts affect nearly every state department including Medicaid and Education.
Suspected cases of COVID-19 climbed to almost 21,000 as the state ramps up testing. We’ll break down the major points from today’s briefing.
Billion Dollar Budget Cuts
Ohio is cutting the budget by close to $1 billion dollars.
Governor Mike DeWine said, “As we all know this COVID-19 epidemic has had a profound impact on the American Economy and on Ohio’s economy as well. By the end of February, state revenue’s were ahead of estimates by $200 million dollars. WE now have figures in from April. We are now $776.9 million dollars below the budget estimate. That’s a turnaround of close to a billion dollars.”
The state projects the revenue will continue to be below budget. He said it indicates that Ohio must make significant cuts to the state budget.
Ohio has a 2-year budget cycle and the budget must be balanced. The Governor said, “Unlike the federal government, we have to balance our budget and we intend to do so.”
He announced that the budget will be reduced by $775 million dollars. The cuts must be made in the next two months.
“I have decided not take money from the rainy day fund for the next two months. I’ve decided to make cuts. We are going to need that rainy day fund for next year and possibly the year after.”
DeWine said the cruel nature of an economic downturn was that you had to make cuts to services just when people need them the most. “None of these decisions are easy and I do not make them lightly. As many of our businesses and citizens are having to make difficult decisions, it’s incumbent on us to make these decisions.”
What’s Being Cut
- Medicaid: $210 million
- K12 Foundation Payment Reduction: $300 million
- Other Education Budget Line Items: $55 million
- Higher Education: $110 million
- All Other Agencies: $100 million each
- Total cuts: $775 million
“Any cut to education is difficult,” DeWine said, “But we have an obligation to balance these cuts and protect the most vulnerable of our students. If we do not make these cuts now, the cuts we make next year will have to be more dramatic.”
He said every agency with the exception of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is taking cuts. There will be a hiring freeze and a freeze on pay raises and promotions.
The Governor defended his decision not to cut the prison budget. “It’s very difficult to find the money in the prisons. We have an obligation to protect the public. There’s not much of an opportunity in the prisons to cut the money.”
Lt. Governor Jon Husted said Ohio had been through a lot over the years. However, he said could not recall a time when the state experienced a billion dollar budget swing within a two-month period. “It’s a health crisis that creates an economic crisis.”
COVID – 19 Numbers
Ohio’s Coronavirus cases jumped by 495 today.
- Suspected Cases – 20,969
Confirmed Cases, 20, 072
- Suspected Deaths – 1, 135
Confirmed Deaths – 1, 038
- Hospitalizations – 3, 956
ICU Admissions 1,123
- Scioto County – 12 confirmed 1 probable
Dr. Amy Acton said just over 1% of Ohio’s population has been tested.
When asked whether counties should have local control over opening businesses, Lt. Governor Jon Husted said, “The local government officials are our partners. The governor has spelled out clearly that we have a pathway. We rely on our local officials to enforce the executive orders. We are working as swiftly as we can.”
Husted said that Ohio was the first one into the COVID-19 shutdown and among the first to emerge. He said Ohio trusts its citizens to follow proper protocols. “We understand some want to go slower. Some want to go faster.”
DeWine said, “We’re moving away from the distinction between essential and non-essential.”