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Published: Thursday, 6/18/2009

Strickland might cut aid to poor to trim budget


COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland has proposed roughly $2 billion in cuts to help close a $3.2 billion shortfall in the two-year state budget, a plan that would slash health care and other safety-net services for Ohio's poor.

The administration reportedly gave details of the plan over the weekend to Democratic leaders in the Ohio House. Majority Republicans in the Senate say they have not been briefed.

Sources said the areas where Mr. Strickland has suggested cutting include:

•Dental, vision, and other Medicaid services for low-income adults.

•The Passport program that enables the elderly to receive care in their home instead of at a nursing home.

•Services to protect children and adults from abuse.

The administration also proposed eliminating preschool for low-income children, a planned expansion of tax-funded health coverage to uninsured children, and planned increases in payments to nursing homes caring for disabled.

Cuts in state aid to Ohio colleges and universities are back on the table, education advocates said, and flat funding for the next two years may be the best that primary and secondary schools can hope for. The governor, House, and Senate have until the end of the month to agree on a new two-year state budget. Hundreds of differences in versions approved by the two chambers must be resolved.

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