Our view: an unevenly balanced budget

“Education is the central issue I face as governor.” Gov. Ted Strickland in his 2008 State of the State address

“Because there is no better way to strengthen our people and our state than investing in education, we made a commitment that begins with preschool and continues through adulthood.”

Strickland, State of the State 2008

“If your interest is the economy, if your interest is our social health, if your interest is our physical health, if your interest is education – at any level, for any age – then you must care about early childhood education.” Strickland, State of the State 2007

Strickland has stressed the importance of edu- cation in Ohio time and time again. A stronger education system will produce better-prepared workers, boosting the economy in a lasting way. He’s promised to increase the state’s share of funding for primary and secondary schools. He froze tuition for universities across the state, and created programs to make it easier for high school seniors to pursue higher education.

The message is clear: Education is important. It’s time Strickland listened to his own message.

Earlier this month, Strickland called for more than $733 million in state spending cuts – $101 million from the Department of Education, the largest proportion of any area in the state.

While Strickland has said the per-pupil spending from the state to the schools won’t change, with cuts to busing and professional development for teachers, students are still likely to suffer.

Strickland’s other big talking point is the economy, which is inseparably tied to education. When a community improves its education, the economy is likely to improve as well.

So why would Strickland not invest some of money from his “Building Ohio Jobs” plan into education? The plan puts $1.7 billion into areas such as green energy, bioproducts, downtown development and road, bridge, water and sewer projects, which he says will create 80,000 new jobs.

This is great. As college students, we will soon be entering the workforce, and, as near gradu- ates know, the state of the economy today is poor. However, the areas Strickland is investing in may increase jobs now and create a slightly larger pool of careers in the future, but they will require an educated workforce. Why not invest in education? In his 2008 State of the State address, Strickland acknowledged that Ohio’s workforce is not as educated as it could be, and he stressed how we, as a state, must work to increase the number of college graduates we produce.

If primary and secondary schools do not inspire thought and nourish creativity, we cannot expect the promise of a job post-graduation to be enough to encourage students to attend a university and thrive. We need to give students the skills when they are young. Last year, Strickland seemed to understand this concept.

“If we do this right, education will feed the economy,” he said in his 2007 State of the State address. “Success will bring more success.”

It’s good to see a politician striving to balance our shaky budget that too often dips into a deficit. We want to see our tax dollars well spent.

It’s also good to see a politician take action toward improving the economy. That’s important to strengthening Ohio as a whole.

But Ohio’s schools are already in bad shape. Strickland should listen to his own messages and continue taking steps forward in education, not backward.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.