Ohio lawmakers approved an interim state budget on Tuesday, but some people worry that the ongoing battle over slot machines is blocking money from going to those in need.
Faced with a stalemate, House lawmakers voted 94-2 in favor of a seven-day spending plan that will allow the state to keep operating while budget talks continue. Strickland signed the measure on Tuesday afternoon.
The Senate approved the measure Monday. It is the first temporary budget Ohio has been forced to
approve in 18 years.
Groups that depend on state funding are waiting for the new budget to be passed so they know if their funds will be cut, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.
"How do I tell someone, 'I can't feed you today,' or, 'I can't give you medical care?'" said LifeCare Alliance president Charles Ghering. "These are life and death choices for people, without us they have nothing."
The Meals On Wheels program serves 14,000 people in Columbus. Every day that lawmakers fail to decide on how to balance the budget is another day organizations like Meals On Wheels can't plan to serve the people that depend on them, Landers reported.
"People will die if we can't service them" Ghering said.
A second seven-day extension was also introduced in the House on Tuesday, hinting that Democrats are ready to dig in and wait for the Senate to present an alternative to the $933 million lottery-run video slots terminals are estimated to raise.
Senate Republicans said they want voters to decide if slots should be allowed at race tracks, but Democrats and Gov. Ted Strickland said they do not agree.
"It is not a good time and it appears we have a gridlock situation that has developed over trying to distinguish between two very similar machines," said Democratic Ohio Rep. Todd Bock.
Lawmakers said without expansion of gambling at race tracks -- a move they claim will generate more than $900 million for the state -- they will be forced to cut $3.2 billion over the next two years.
If the plan passed, they would need to cut $2.2, saving the state nearly $1 billion.
"We need the revenue now to fill these budget holes," Bock said.
LifeCare Alliance said it is time for state's leadership to start acting like leaders and find a solution, Landers reported.
"My best hope is that there is leadership that can come up with some innovative ideas to keep the budget alive," Ghering said.
If not, Ghering said programs like Meals On Wheels will have turn clients away, while the odds are against other agencies.
"More social services groups will close their doors," Landers reported.
Strickland said the investors behind slots at race tracks will only put up the money with legislative approval. Some lawmakers said they still are not sold on the idea because no one has told them how the machines will run, and no one has shown them any proof the machines will generate the money that is claimed.
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