Leaders from Dayton, Cincinnati, and several other cities are calling on Republican Governor John Kasich to restore funds to local governments in a two-day tour called “Stop the Kasich Raid.” Municipalities have seen cuts in the last two state budgets totaling over $1.5 billion from several funding sources.
Speaking on the steps of Dayton City Hall, Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld targeted John Kasich for the rollbacks in local budgets.
“This is a shell game,” he said. “For him to take more than a billion dollars from local communities, and then be boastful about having a billion dollar plus surplus, where did he get that surplus? It’s the people’s money, it’s the money that belongs to local communities.”
Sittenfeld, who organized the multi-city tour, argues cities and towns are forced to make up for the losses through raising local taxes. But the governor’s office says the cuts were just a small part of most city budgets, and they were necessary to keep the state’s budget balanced. From 2011 to 2012, Montgomery County saw a reduction of about $9 million from the Local Government Fund, which is distributed by counties to local governments’ general funds. The cuts in the 2014-2015 budget were smaller, but local leaders are arguing that these funds were promised to cities and counties when Ohio first passed a sales tax decades ago and that the funds should be reinstated at a consistent minimum rate.
Governor John Kasich’s office declined an interview for this story, but Chris Schrimpf, the spokesperson for the Ohio Republican party, says the parties just differ on how to grow the economy.
“Do you do it by raising taxes, which is was the Democrats would do, or do you do it by creating jobs, which is what the governor did and what the Republican philosophy is?” said Schrimpf.
The issue of local government funds doesn’t have much traction with the Republican-led legislature: it isn’t apparently on the agenda in the current mid-biennium budgeting process in the statehouse.
The tour is in Toledo, Akron, Cleveland and Youngstown on Friday.
CORRECTION: The first radio airing of this story mistakenly called Chris Schrimpf the head of the Ohio Republican Party. He is the party's spokesperson.