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Blueprints for spending sought from state offices

COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland's administration Thursday took the first step toward the next state budget by asking government agencies to submit spending proposals that are 10 percent smaller than current levels.

State agencies also were asked to submit separate budgets that would hold spending in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 at current levels.

Neither plan would cut enough to close completely a projected budget hole for the next two years that some have estimated could be as large as $8 billion, or 16 percent of the current $50.5 billion, two-year budget.

"This range is to provide a full picture to the governor, so that he has the information available to him when he is developing his executive budget," Strickland spokesman Amanda Wurst said. "It does not indicate what decisions will be made or have been made.

"Some programs will be held harmless and will continue to see current funding," she said. "Some will see increases. Some will see cuts putting them between 90 percent and current levels, and some will see cuts of more than 10 percent. This is just the traditional beginning of the budget planning process."

Early next year, the governor, either Mr. Strickland or his Republican opponent, John Kasich, will present his budget proposal to lawmakers. The current budget ends June 30, 2011.

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