Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Friday outlined a framework for addressing a budget gap of up to $3.2 billion, including raising $933 million annually to allow slot machines at the state’s horse-racing tracks.

His fiscal 2010-11 budget plan also calls for more than $2.4 billion in spending cuts. The governor said his goal is to leave education funding intact and balance the budget through a mix of cuts and revenue increases in favor of tax hikes.

“This is the best course of action to meet our balanced budget obligations,” he said.

A House-Senate conference committee began meeting this week to come up with a compromise budget plan that addresses differences in each chamber’s adopted budget and addresses the latest revenue projections in the $52 billion spending plan for the next two years.

Strickland previously opposed expanding gaming as a means to cover budget gaps, but that was before the release of the latest revenue estimates. Much of the state’s $1 billion budget reserve is to be tapped to deal with dwindling revenue in the current fiscal year before it ends June 30.

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