Tuesday, July 14, 2009

State budget deal winners: racetracks, Columbus Dispatch

If you'd like to know how the state budget crisis got resolved, the Plain Dealer's story today is OK. But I got a lot more out of the very clear explanations in the Columbus Dispatch's four stories.

It's not easy to make budget battles clear and exciting, but lawmakers' decisions affect thousands of people. For weeks now, the Dispatch has used its home-field advantage to explain it all clearly and vividly.

Today, "Keeping Score" explains who won and lost: Racetracks and food pantries were winners, prisons and libraries did "better than feared," while losers included mental-health services, colleges and universities, and hospitals.

This story quotes advocates about how the budget cuts will affect mental health and addiction treatment as well as libraries. The lead story explains how Gov. Strickland and the Republicans made the deal. "This is in the budget?" catches all the random stuff that got slipped into the budget bill (like, protection for teachers who lead kids in the Pledge of Allegiance).

I'm going to bookmark dispatchpolitics.com for my state politics news from now on.

The Plain Dealer's front page did note one bit of news the Dispatch almost missed: after a long battle, tax credits for the state's film industry passed as part of the deal.

Update, 7/15: The PD came back today with some Day 2 stories, including their own interesting piece about random stuff in the budget bill. They figured out that the Pledge of Allegiance bit was aimed at the Oberlin public schools, which have a policy of not saying the Pledge.

Also, corporal punishment is now officially banned in Ohio schools. Turns out a few scattered schools in the state were still paddling!

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