Budget Panel Begins “Deficit” Hearings.

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For more than two hours the legislature’s top budget adviser cited hundreds of numbers of how state government raises money and spends it. But the three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel didn’t spend much time on possible solutions to the gigantic projected money hole.

In fact, co-chair, Shannon Jones, a Republican senator, tried to downplay expectations about the panel. She said it won’t likely agree on how to solve the financial mess. Instead, she sees the panel first coming to grips as to how bad it is and how we got into it and then offering a menu of options lawmakers could choose from next year. Jones is the only panel member to sign a vow to oppose all tax hikes.

No members have crusaded for tax increases but a few have left the door open to the idea. Advocates for government programs benefiting seniors, the poor, the mentally ill and children worry that if some tax hikes aren’t used to fill the money hole, spending cuts would have to be so huge the programs would be devastated.

Bill Cohen Ohio Public Radio