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Lawmakers should be cautious

There is a movement in place to invest in urban centers and expand the role of academia.

The thinking behind it is that, if the urban centers prosper, the state will prosper.

It is a powerful group, bipartisan in its appeal and supported, at least in part, by Gov. Kasich and former Gov. Strickland.

I, however, believe we must be very careful as to not place too much of our attention solely on the urban areas of the state.

I certainly want the urban centers to prosper, but not by taking our eyes off the ball for job growth for rural areas.

As I wrote in my column last week, things have to change. Technology has changed the way we do things and government has to become more efficient.

Public safety and education are two primary state responsibilities.

Dedicating state funds to local governments and school boards to provide public safety and education illustrates a shared responsibility, not revenue sharing.

There are instances at all levels of government where there is waste and a better job needs to be done, but we cannot throw the baby out with the bath water.

A basic level of funding for public safety has to be maintained. Sen. David Daniels and I fought to keep a provision in the budget that helps counties provide basic law enforcement services.

Of course, the Ohio Constitution calls for education to be a state responsibility, one that I take very seriously.

Another new formula is being worked on to address school funding, and it will be debated and discussed thoroughly in the coming months.

Additionally, there are efforts underway by some to consolidate counties, townships and school districts.

It is important to have that discussion, but I believe that any decisions regarding these changes should be locally driven.

Local governments are sharing services and streamlining efforts because of the cuts in funding. In our area, cooperation has been a key for a long time.

With counties already sharing and consolidating services, I do not support the idea that counties consolidate with one another for actual governance.

I have been very vocal about my concerns, but I know these discussions are going to continue.

Staying the same and not engaging are not options if we want to form our own future.

It is important for everyone to be involved with this debate.

I encourage you to ask questions and become involved. In the meantime, I will continue to ask questions when some of these proposals reach the legislative process.

John Carey serves in Ohio’s 87th District of the House of Representatives, which includes eastern Lawrence County. He can be reached at (614) 466-1366, by writing to: Ohio House of Representatives, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215, or via e-mail at District87@ohr.state.oh.us.