Surplus state funds should halt LGF cuts

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2005

Hurrah for Gov. Bob Taft! The Republican leader took a stand Thursday and deserves a round of applause for urging legislators to correct a big mistake.

Now that the state has found out it expects to have an extra $1.3 billion over the next two years, Taft has urged leaders to restore Local Government Funds that are distributed to cities, counties and libraries.

Under the current proposed budget, local funding to cities and counties would be cut by 20 percent in 2006. Village and township funds would be cut by 10 percent. Library funding would be cut by 5 percent.

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The first step is for state officials to make sure they have dotted all the "Is" and crossed all the "Ts" on the projection. If the projections are correct, we hope legislators listen to the governor because the proposed cuts could be devastating to local governments, many of which are already struggling to make ends meet.

Taft was highly criticized for including the cuts in his original budget plan. So, maybe he is just caving to the pressure. We like to think he wants to wisely use funds he did not know would be there.

Much of the financial windfall comes from higher than anticipated tax collections, higher projections for what may be collected under the new tax structure in the budget and lowered projections for the number of people enrolling in Medicaid.

Taft even took it farther and proposed something that we feel would greatly benefit southern Ohio - continue funding its $10 billion school construction program.

With the Ironton City School System in line for funding for new or renovated schools, every dollar that goes into this program could benefit our children and our future.

Taft also wants to see the state's "Rainy day" fund replenished before it starts pouring.

Members of the House and Senate agree with the governor on using the additional money to replenish the fund, but also want to invest in higher education and reduce a proposed 30 percent increase in a tax on electrical service.

We hope all our elected leaders can find a middle ground and use this money wisely for the good of the entire state.