COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two weeks after Governor Mike DeWine announced $775 million in cuts to the state’s budget over the next two months, many school districts are looking to see where they can make their own cuts which this late in the year the governor’s recognizes is difficult.
“The toughest frankly were the cuts that we made in schools,” DeWine told News 5. "They averaged 3.7% for the whole year but what that meant of course is you did that cut over only two months and so that's a pretty big cut."
"What I told teachers and administrators, I was actually on the phone [Friday] with some superintendents from Lorain County and I said look we tried to make the tough cut up front and I said look we tried to make the tough cut up front and our goal is to get through next year without any more cuts, I don't know that we can do that but that certainly is our goal we don't want to cut education and we want to give some predictability to school boards and superintendents and principals and teachers as they plan to move ahead but you know this is a tough time.”
While many aspects of the current situation are unpredictable DeWine said there’s one part that’s not for state’s like Ohio.
“When the economy goes down two things happen the costs go up and at the same time the income that's coming in through taxes of course goes dramatically down,” DeWine said. “We can't print money, we've got to balance the budget every single year.”
Plus DeWine said making cuts now rather than dipping into the state’s rainy day fund helps better to set the stage going forward.
“What we wanted to do is make cuts up front as you know the longer you go into, we have a 24 month cycle for budget and the longer you go into that and you don't make cuts then the tougher it is when you do make the cuts.”
The potential budget deficit would be the state’s largest since 2011 when Governor John Kasich took office facing a $7.7 billion hole in the budget. A hole he filled by famously cutting the amount of money the state gives to local governments but in return he gave them collective bargaining reforms in the form of Senate Bill 5. Reforms that at the time would have saved those local governments an estimated $1.1 billion in the first year alone.
The uproar from the state's unions was huge. Even after it was signed into law SB5 ended up as a referendum on the state ballot that November as Ohio voters chose to repeal the reforms. It has been a third rail since but we asked DeWine though, given the financial situation, might collective bargaining reforms be revisited.
"You know we have not had any discussion about that I stay in touch with the mayors, I talk with Mayor Jackson for example virtually every day and we have talked about a lot of different things,” DeWine said. “We haven't had any discussion about that no, no discussion yet about that.”