State should rethink local funding cuts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hold on tight, folks. It's about to be a very bumpy ride here in the rollercoaster world of Ohio budget politics.

In the days since Ohio Gov. Bob Taft unveiled his proposed $51 billion state budget, obstacles and complaints to his plan have erupted all over the Buckeye state.

The reason for the uproar is simple: Taft's budget takes a realistic look at the state's budget situation and that requires cuts.

Email newsletter signup

Taft's budget proposes sweeping changes in the state's tax code and across-the-board cuts to many, many state expenditures.

Interestingly, in the end, the citizens of Ohio must pay more - one way or another.

If Taft's budget is approved as is, one of the most critical expense cuts to residents in Lawrence County will be the cut to the Local Government Funds.

Under his proposal, Taft would cut local funding to cities and counties by 20 percent in 2006. Village and township funds would be cut by 10 percent. Library funding would be cut by 5 percent.

Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if suddenly your employer asked you to take a 20 percent cut in pay. In other words, for every $1 we owe you, we're really just going to pay you $0.80.

If that were the case, you most likely wouldn't be too happy, would you?

Neither are the cities, counties, villages, townships and libraries that would feel the sharp blade of the budget axe.

Look at Lawrence County and the City of Ironton for a moment. Could either of them absorb a 20 percent cut in state funding? The short answer is: Sure they could.

But it might be ugly.

Cutting local funding will likely cause two things to occur.

First, the local entities will likely try to tighten their belts. Then, the local entities with little resources on which to fall back, and when the belts cannot be tightened any more, taxes will be raised.

As we said, someone will have to pay for the state's financial situation. And, in terms of the local funding cuts that "someone" will be local citizens.

We urge the governor and lawmakers to consider reinstating the local funding cuts and making up the difference by further increasing the so-called "sin taxes" on cigarettes and alcohol. Both of these are luxuries and both can cause healthcare problems through overuse.