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Shortfall casts shadow over budget talks

Julie Carr Smyth
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS — A shortfall that could top $240 million threatened Tuesday to cloud state budget talks thus far so genial that one lawmaker suggested a chorus of “Kumbaya.”
The $53.4 billion spending blueprint cleared the Senate Finance Committee unanimously after garnering support from both parties for its priority items. Among its highlights are: a two-year tuition freeze at state colleges and universities, property tax breaks for disabled Ohioans and those over 65, expanded health coverage for children and money for pre-school and after-school care.
Though the lag between tax revenue projections and collections has not yet been finalized, lawmakers and Gov. Ted Strickland agreed that figuring out what spending to cut to fill the gap will be a key challenge heading into talks on the final budget compromise.

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