CHICAGO - A day before Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's state of the state address, Republican lawmakers proposed a plan to diminish the size of state government to save the fiscally struggling state up to $1 billion.
The lawmakers said they would introduce companion bills to the House and Senate that would cut the number of state agencies to 10 from 24. Under the plan, roughly 11,000 state jobs would be eliminated. Ohio currently employs more than 60,000 people.
The legislators proposed consolidating state government into 10 so-called core missions, including education, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, and finance and operations. All agencies and services would be grouped according to mission and under a corresponding cabinet department.
The GOP lawmakers announced the plan a day before the Democratic governor is expected to introduce a number of reform proposals in his annual state of the state address, scheduled for noon today. Strickland is expected to unveil a plan to overhaul how the state funds schools as well as a number of proposals to tackle the state's budget gap.
In December, Strickland and state budget director J. Pari Sabety warned that Ohio is facing a record $7.3 billion deficit in its next two-year budget cycle, as well as a $640 million shortfall in its current budget. They said they would have to enact deep cuts without an infusion of federal aid.
Strickland's address today will provide a glimpse of the budget plan, but the governor will not unveil his proposed 2010-2011 budget until February.
Rep. John Adams and Sen. Tim Grendell, both Republicans, said they would push the General Assembly to scale back the size of government despite the prospect of forthcoming federal aid.
"Regardless of the amount of one-time dollars that will be showered upon this state from Washington, we have structural inefficiencies in state government," Adams said. "The economic circumstances of our state require that we reconsider how our state does business."
Republican House Minority Leader William G. Batchelder said he supports the consolidation plan.