Budget Decisons – Difficult for All Ohioans

According to recent reports, Ohio’s deficit hovers near $8 billion. Governor Kasich is hard at work gathering individuals to help balance the budget. Yet, in thinking of the deficit, I can’t help but wonder what tips the everyday Ohioan could offer the governor. Sure, a few individuals have personal debts more than a million dollars, but given our high unemployment rate, many people have gotten used to slashing their expenses. Despite their differences, there are certain similarities between the ways in which Ohioans and state officials work to balance their budgets.

Let’s start with spending cuts. People often ask what expenses are required and what can be cut? Clearly, housing costs and utilities are a necessary expense. Yet in times of economic turmoil, people figure out ways to reduce costs. Sure, having cable is nice, but is the premium package really worth the additional $40 or can you live with basic cable or do without entirely? The state needs to ask itself similar questions: what eco-friendly initiatives can the state adopt to cut heating and electric costs of government-run buildings? In place of the long-distance conference call, how about using free programs such as skype? Just like the everyday Ohioan figures out how to watch the Daily Show online, so too can the state figure out how to do without.

In addition to cutting costs, many people try to figure out how to increase revenue to help the budget. The everyday Ohioan can take on a second job or sell personal belongings. It is never easy to work a 40-hour week and then work retail on the weekends. Yet, Ohioans frequently make the sacrifice. The state can make more money by increasing taxes. Now, no one ever wants a tax hike. But, in times of economic uncertainty, like taking the second job, tax increases may be required. And Ohioans should understand the state needs to increase its cash flow just as they work to increase theirs.

Now there is a difference. Unlike trimming our personal budgets, cutting the state’s budget affects others. In order to balance the budget, Governor Kasich many have to cut some state-funded programs, and the cuts may hurt programs that serve Ohio’s most needy. Yet, the everyday Ohioan faces similarly uncomfortable decisions. For instance, children’s happiness is foremost in every parent’s mind, yet when facing economic uncertainty, parents make sacrifices, such as forgoing new clothes or extra-curricular activities.

Parents understand financial security trumps a trip to the movies. And though the child may resent the parent, families ultimately find other forms of fun, such as stay-cations, or playing board games. While it is understandable that people don’t want to cut state programs, the budget reality requires compromise. Making cuts does not say certain programs are without value. But, just like parents must disappoint their children, so too must Governor Kasich disappoint some constituents in this economic crisis.

Balancing a budget is a daunting task. But examining the ways everyday Ohioans justify their own budget sacrifices, perhaps Governor Kasich will feel better about some decision that lay ahead. Vice-versa, understanding these similarities may help ordinary citizens accept potential tax hikes or budget cuts as they do their own personal sacrifices. Whatever may happen, whether it is cutting cable or cutting service programs, in today’s economic climate, we all understand the value of pinching pennies.