Home Money Uncertainty over spending causes fear on state, national levels

Uncertainty over spending causes fear on state, national levels

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Now that the chaos of election season is over and a new crop of elected officials has taken office, focus is shifting toward the actual issues at hand.

One of the most important issues, for both the state and the nation, is the question of spending – how much should we spend, and on what should we spend it?

Ohio Sen. Kevin Bacon is a major supporter of balancing the budget and controlling spending. He believes that this is a huge issue on both the state and the national level.

“I think nationally the biggest problem to address and one that we haven’t, in recent times, had a congress or president address it is the spending issue. It just seems like it’s something that nobody can completely get control over,” Bacon said. “In the state of Ohio, for example, our constitution mandates that we balance our budget.”

Federal data seems to agree with Bacon. According to the US Debt Clock, Ohio is currently over $77 billion in debt – and that dollar amount is rising by the second. This brings the debt-per-citizen amount to around $6,696.

The sentiment is the same on the national level. Earlier in January, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, both representing the National Governor’s Association, addressed Congress about their fears that the national spending crisis – and the lack of progress made in resolving it – could have a negative impact on states.

“Our [states’] economies are tightly linked to the national economy, and as a result, our states’ prosperity depends – the prosperity of our citizens depend in no small measure – on [the] ability of public servants in Washington to come to terms on a path forward,” Markell, who is chairman of the association, said in his remarks to Congress.

Fallin, vice chair of the NGA, believes that the most practical solution is to personalize deficit reduction processes to fit each individual state, based on that state’s unique needs. She asserted that this would be a much better solution than pushing the national government’s costs to the states.

“What we don’t need are ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions or more unfunded federal mandates passed onto our states,” Fallin said.

The uncertainty over the as-of-yet nonexistent solution to the spending crisis isn’t just bad news for states. Bacon fears that the nation itself could be headed into a downward spiral if a solution is not found soon.

“The federal government has this mindset that if you can’t balance the budget, you simply bond out more money. The deficit has spiraled out of control to the point in the near future where we [may] have to rely on countries like China,” he said.

In Ohio, some economic progress has been made since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011. Employment in the state is currently at 6.8%, an improvement over 9%, which was the rate when Kasich began his first term as governor.

Nationally, though, employment has grown at a slower pace. The jobless rate has fallen to 7.8% from 9.1% in the same amount of time.

“Jobs and the economy is what’s most important,” Bacon said. However, he stated that the federal government needs to figure out the budget before more progress can be made as far as creating jobs.

Kasich will not release his budget plan for FY 2014-15 until February. Whether or not it will bring about any more improvement remains to be seen.

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