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OHIO LEGISLATURE Planned closing of centers opposed



Published: Thu, February 13, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



One lawmaker wants to know how officials decided which of the 12 developmental centers to close.

BY JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- Some state lawmakers are hoping to derail a proposal to close the Springview and Apple Creek developmental centers because of the state's budget problems.

State Rep. Merle Grace Kearns, a Springfield Republican, said she plans to offer an amendment to do just that today when the House Finance and Appropriations Committee considers a bill to help the state plug a $720 million deficit in the current two-year state budget that ends June 30.

Kearns said her amendment would call for the state Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to halt plans to close Springview in Clark County and Apple Creek in Wayne County.

The amendment would also call for the department to do a study for the next six months to determine which centers, if any, should be closed and to issue a report of its findings and recommendations, Kearns said.

Wants answer

Kearns, a member of the House finance committee, said she wants to know what the department's reasoning is for selecting Springview and Apple Creek as the two of the department's 12 centers to shut down in the coming years.

"I think they should look at all 12 of them," Kearns said.

State officials are proposing the developmental center closings as part of Republican Gov. Bob Taft's $49.1 billion, two-year executive budget proposal pending before the Legislature.

The next two-year budget is to be in place by July 1.

State lawmakers from Wayne County say they will back Kearns' amendment if it becomes part of the budget correction bill

House action

If the House finance committee approves, the budget correction measure could be before the full House for a vote on Wednesday. The bill would still have to be considered by the Senate.

The state's 10 other developmental centers are in Toledo, Cambridge, Columbus, Gallipolis, Huber Heights, Mt. Vernon, Batavia, Tiffin, Mineral Ridge and Highland Hills.




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