State Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, wants to slow down the state budget’s progress toward a final
vote, just long enough to give legislators and citizens some hope of knowing what’s in the budget.
Gardner said that the speaker of the House, Armond Budish, is planning a vote as early as 3 p.m. today on
the 4,000-page spending plan.
Before that the House-Senate Joint Conference committee is scheduled to meet in order to iron out as many
as 500 changes including a plan to install slot machines at the state’s race tracks and education
The Senate also needs to approve the package and then it goes to Gov. Ted Strickland for his signature.
That’s too little time, Gardner said, for legislators and the public to have any idea what those changes
are. He called the rush to a vote "ludicrous."
Though the budget should have been passed by July 1, politicians continue to try to hammer out details.
While much of the language has been known for awhile, Gardner said, he can’t be sure what has been
transformed as Strickland, the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-
controlled Senate have wrestled to come up with the two-year budget.
Those changes don’t only affect the amount of money allocated, Gardner said. They could be as simple as
changing a "shall" to a "may." That can have a "dramatic" change on state
Also new items are still be written into the bill.
The education reform section of the spending plan affects a range of policies, calendars and mandates, he
The state is currently operating under a stop-gap budget that expires at the end of the day Tuesday.
Gardner thinks that could be extended at least a few more days to allow the details to be aired out.
"Legislators deserve and the public deserves the right to know," he said. "This is the
most important document over the next two years that the Legislature will enact."
To have it rushed through, he added, "is just offensive."
From what Gardner said he has learned of the budget some library money that Strickland had proposed
cutting has been restored "but not to my satisfaction" and some funding for mental health
He’s bothered by the proposal to have schools depending even more on gambling for money. The slot machine
provision would generate an estimated $933 million that would be dedicated to education.
That leaves funding for the state’s schools "even more precarious," Gardner said.