There will be a lot to debate about the biennial budget being hammered out in Columbus, but one thing that isn't in doubt is the wisdom of the legislature in preserving the state's unemployment offices at least through 2001.
There was an uproar in March when word came out of Columbus that the Department of Jobs and Family Services intended to close its 56 local unemployment offices around the state.
A budget amendment hammered out Tuesday will require the director of JFS to issue a detailed report to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee on the department's closing plans before Oct. 1.
Jo Ann Davidson, the former speaker of the Ohio House who was drafted by Gov. Bob Taft to head JFS on a short-term basis, had already put the closings on hold. Her pledge was that before any unemployment office was closed, one of the department's new "one-stop centers" would be in place to provide face-to-face service.
There is no doubt that in the future state government will be doing more and more interaction by telephone or through computer links, but providing job services to people who have been laid off and need help in finding work is best handled in person.