State Representative Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), a member of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee assigned the task of vetting the state’s mid-biennium review proposals, was deeply disappointed with actions of the majority party during Tuesday’s hearing. In recent years, the budget review process has traditionally been a time to fix mistakes of the previous budget. However, this year, it was not the case.
Cera said Democrats offered several amendments in good faith on Tuesday hoping the majority party would jump at the chance to dip into the state’s $2 billion dollar surplus to help struggling communities across the state. One of the amendments would have restored 3.68 percent to the local government funds (LGF). Cera said many townships, villages and cities in eastern Ohio are still feeling the impact of the Governor’s initial cut to the LGF line item three years ago. “Approval of this amendment would mean a big difference to police and fire departments who have felt the impact of budget cuts first-hand.”
Another amendment would have appropriated $150 million for repairs to local infrastructure projects that were severely impacted by the harsh winter weather. These dollars would help local governments defray the high costs of road repair, such as potholes, caused by the cold weather and snow. Cera noted that his office receives complaints on the crumbling roadways almost daily. “When you hear that there is heavy damage being done to vehicles which includes blown out tires and broken wheels and axles, it’s frustrating. I know my local governments want to fix those roadways; they travel them on a daily basis too. Unfortunately, their coffers are empty.”
Another disappointment felt by Democrats on the Finance Committee included the rejected restoration of 2.22 percent to the library fund. Rep. Cera noted that libraries play an integral part in the lives of many individuals in his district. “Our libraries provide vital services to many individuals including youth reading programs and adult career enhancement classes on resume building and job searching. They also offer internet access needed by many families who find they must file for unemployment online.”
Rep. Cera feels strongly that the administration needs to remember the needs of all local communities. “Democrats are asking our Governor to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Make our communities safe, fix our roads, these are things that can truly make a difference.”