Hard times come as no surprise

Hard times come as no surprise

People can easily deal with pain and self sacrifice as long as it doesn’t pertain to them. The economic mess that our country is presently facing came about gradually over a period of years and it will take years to fully recover if it ever does.

It comes as no surprise that Ohio is facing a potential $8 billion shortfall in regard to the two-year budget starting in July 2011. Significant cuts will have to be made in state funding for its various agencies and infighting will become fierce. Arguments will be made by those affected that the services they offer are critical and therefore should be spared from the budgetary ax. There is no question that some services are very important but most often it’s about turf protection.

The projected shortfall needs to reflect the worst case scenario given the shaky nature of our economy. The dollar amount of the shortfall would then be applied to all of the agencies on a percentage basis based upon the recently ended fiscal year. An agency that had received 10 percent of the previous year’s total budget dollars would receive a reduction of 10 percent of the total deficit amount. It would be up to the various agencies to determine how their dollars would be spent.

A number of state expenditures are mandated by federal law and the governors of the 48 states that are having budget problems should collectively and publicly petition Washington for a temporary waiver. The anticipated federal bailout for the states this year is dead due to a fear of voter backlash and is no real solution anyway as it would only postpone the inevitable.

Tax revenues have been on a slow but steady decline for years primarily due to the gradual erosion of jobs overseas and a decreasing amount of taxes that large corporations are paying due to generous tax laws. States will face more severe budget cuts in the future. The solution for our predicament is jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

The late Art Linkletter once said that Americans have a tendency to not react or to overreact. Most people mistakenly believe that as long as they are not affected, who cares. My question to those people is: “Do you care now?”

Gerald Heitkamp, Youngstown