At almost the same time yesterday that economists were declaring the national economy has been in recession for about a year, Gov. Ted Strickland was delivering his own bad economic news for Ohio:

The Buckeye State faces a potential shortfall of $7.3 billion in the two-year budget that begins July 1, almost certainly the largest dollar amount in state history. That's about a quarter of the $28.5 billion in discretionary state spending.

And if the federal government doesn't provide significant financial help to Ohio soon and holiday retail sales aren't "robust," the state likely will have to cut an estimated $640 million from the current budget, Strickland said.

"Our great state is confronted with challenges of historic proportions," the governor told reporters at a Statehouse news conference with Budget Director J. Pari Sabety, blaming "the collapse or near-collapse of the national economy."

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