Local politician criticizes bicentennial cost amid budget crisis

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - As Ohio faces spending cuts for education and seniors, some lawmakers are questioning how much is being spent on the state's 200th birthday celebration.

The (Toledo) Blade reported on Tuesday that Ohioans have spent more than $13 million since 1996 on this year's bicentennial events.

State Rep. Dean DePiero, a Democrat from Parma, said that the anniversary of statehood is a momentous occasion. But he questions spending so much on administration and fancy dress balls amid a budget crisis.

One of the most costly parts of the celebration, however, has proven to be one of the most popular. The state spent nearly $2 million casting bronze bells for each of Ohio's 88 counties.

Sen. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Urbana, said that the bells are among the few things people enjoy about government.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)