“History is to the nation as memory is to the individual.”
— Ohio native Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
These were all in the news in 1986. The cost of a U.S. postal stamp was .22 cents, half of what it is today. It was also the last time the state of Ohio invested less than $8 million in the Ohio Historical Society. Nevertheless, Governor Strickland’s new FY 2010-11 budget framework, unveiled late Friday, would reduce the state budget for the Society from $13.5 million in 2008 to as little as $7.5 million annually each of the next two years, a reduction of 45 percent.
This would be a disinvestment of truly historic proportions in Ohio’s history. We simply cannot allow one of Ohio’s greatest strengths – its history – take a giant leap in the wrong direction. The Governor and state lawmakers have very difficult decisions to make between now and June 30. The economy and state budget are the worst in a generation and the Ohio Historical Society fully expects that some level of state budget cuts are unavoidable. The state’s general revenue figures have dipped to 2002 levels, yet the state is prepared to shrink funding for its history to1986 levels? Is this acceptable to you, Ohio?
We’ve been told that education is being protected in this budget. But the Governor’s proposal would slash the budget of the Ohio Historical Society – charged with helping to educate Ohio’s school children about history, train social studies teachers, maintaining dozens of the state’s authentic historical sites and many other educational efforts – to unprecedented lows.
It is important to realize that there is still time to change this outcome. We’ve asked for your help these past several weeks and we thank the roughly 1,000 of you who responded. But we are down to the last week before the next two-year state budget is enacted. We ask that you call your state legislator and tell them to restore funding for historic sites, local history and education.
Ohio’s history, and its future, will thank you.
Executive Director and CEO
Ohio Historical Society