LetOhioVote.org Aims to Place Slots Issue in November 2010 Vote

Critics of plan to legalize slot machines at Ohio's seven horse racing tracks stated on December 4th, 2009 that they have gathered the needed petition signatures to place the issue on the November 2010 statewide referendum.

Gene Pierce, a spokesperson for LetOhioVote.org said that they were in excess of the 241,365 valid signatures from registered state voters needed by December 18th, 2009 to place the issue on the ballot.

The anti-slots organization started collecting signatures for the referendum issue after winning an Ohio Supreme Court decision on September 27th, 2009 that effectively stalled Governor Ted Strickland's effort to approve slot machines at the state's racing tracks as part of his plan to solve an $851 million budget deficit. The Supreme Court decided that LetOhioVote.org had ninety days to pursue a vote petition drive.

Although Gov. Strickland is no longer relying on the earnings from racetrack slot machines to solve the budget deficit, some Senate Republicans have not given up on the issue, which has helped continue the stalemate on how to solve the $851 million budget deficit.

Some Republicans have stated that Ohio should use an estimated $560 million in racetrack slots earnings and licensing fees to fill the majority of the budget deficit rather than postpone this year's 4.2% income tax cut as Gov. Strickland has proposed.

If the slots earnings were cut from consideration, it would make it very tough for Republicans to find an alternative option to Gov. Strickland's slot plan without placing additional cuts on the state budget.

Some Senate GOP leaders, including Finance Committee Chairman John A. Carey Jr. (Republican-Wellston), opposed the idea of using gaming money to solve the deficit. But with only five Republicans willing to support a budget fix that includes the income tax issue, the talks has hit a stalemate in the Senate.