CHICAGO - 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 - raising the specter of steep budget cuts without an infusion of federal aid, top state officials warned yesterday.

The announcement comes as Gov. Ted Strickland attends the National Governors Association meeting in Philadelphia today and plans to lobby President-elect Barack Obama for federal aid the governor said is "essential to avoid potentially severe effects of budget shortfalls" in Ohio and other states.

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