Canton Council President Allen Schulman
Representative Kirk Schuring
Representative Stephen Slesnick
Canton City Council
Well, as far as most Stark County local government officials are concerned, our local legislators (at least on the Republican side of the isle) have been misbehavin' and the officials have been all over them to promise to stop misbehavin' and, in fact, to promise to make atones for their misbehavin'.
State Representative Kirk Schuring (and his fellows in the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly) have not been looking after the well-being of local government funding of Stark's villages, cities, and townships in the process and wake of the State of Ohio making massive cuts (about 62.% down from pre-cut 2011 levels) in its funding of the locals.
Only Schuring (Republican - Jackson Township - the 48th House District) among the Republican members of the Stark County delegation has paid any attention whatsoever to the admonitions.
He has made an itsy-bitsy (and probably ineffective, over the long term) move towards solving the problem as promised last Thursday to a few Canton City Council members and Healy administration officials.
He promised he would work to soften the damage done to local government funding by the Republican supermajority dominated Ohio General Assembly (OGA).
Schuring introduced House Bill 115 (HB 115) yesterday as a first act on his promise, to wit:
To enact section 126.33 of the Revised Code to create the Local Government Bridge Fund [funded at $200 million] for the purpose of providing grants to local governments up to the reduced amount of funds the government received in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 from the Local Government Fund to assist in the implementation of efficiency and cost-saving measures, and to make an appropriation.Why is Jacksonian Schuring involved in Canton?
Canton's representative (Democrat Stephen Slesnick) is powerless to do anything about the severe financial crisis that his hometown is in the midst of.
The most effective person for Canton in terms of catching the ear of Schuring has been Canton City Council president Allen Schulman.
The SCPR has published a number of blogs (several with videos) with Schulman (a Democrat, by the way; probably even a "liberal" Democrat) raising "holy Hell" with the Stark County delegation (four Republicans [if you count Marilyn Slaby who represents the western 20% or so of the county] and one Democrat) to the OGA for allowing local governments to be ravaged by the State of Ohio.
Schulman was at his finest on Tuesday night.
It is rather shocking that the state may well have a $2.5 billion surplus by June 30, 2013 and having gotten there in part by erasing 62.5% of Ohio's contribution to local government financing.
Schulman says that the total bill for the 2011 level of support provided by the State of Ohio was $575 million.
Hmm? $575 million contrasted to a possible $2.5 billion surplus. What? About 23% or so. It can't be about the state needing the money, right?
Ohio got into local government financial assistance in 1935 with the passage of a sales tax (in constitutional amendment form) in 1934, 40% of which was returned to local governments.
(Here is a LINK to and Cleveland Plain Dealer article which provides some history of the origin and evolution of Ohio's local government funding).
Locals including Schulman are crying "foul" in the face of Republican Governor John Kasich's initiated cuts in the 2012/2013 fiscal biennium budget.
Here is the governor's response through spokesman Rob Nichols (March, 2011):
I don't think there is any way you can compare 2011 with 1935. I think many people have broken that promise over the last 70 or 80 years, We recognize that we are working within an $8 billion budget hole, and there is less money to go around, making it increasingly important that local governments embrace the reforms and tools we give them to cut costs.The SCPR's take on Schuring's bill is that it is like an individual or family going to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Veterans Service Commission for emergency relief.
What it is not is a "foot in the door" towards getting back to the good old days of lots and lots of assistance from the State of Ohio.
An example of what the new reality is:
The Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (C-SCCL) is funded by 9% of the total Stark County political subdivision take from Ohio's Local Government Fund.
In 2007 that was about $1.5 million
Where is it now?
How about $750,000?
Consequently, the C-SCCL is on life support and in danger of dying.
The SCPR gives Representative Schuring an "A" for effort but his HB 115 one has to think is not going to cut it with local officials.
Schuring's current effort is a second gargantuan task he has taken on.
Back in 2007, when he was on the cusp of running for Congress (long time Republican congressman Ralph Regula was retiring), he took on pushing an constitutional amendment initiative that he said would solve Ohio's chronic public school funding problem.
Here is a LINK to an Alliance Review article which summarizes the effort.
As far as the SCPR was concerned, Schuring's education initiative was a congressional campaign gambit designed to get him loads of free media ink and which had no possibility whatsoever of getting by a Democratic governor's (Strickland) veto even if it got through the Ohio General Assembly.
HB 115 is not a political gambit.
It appears to the SCPR to be desperation move by OGA Republicans (apparently, Schuring has become the "designated hitter" to see if he can hit a home run for the Grand Old Party) to reduce the heat they are taking from Republican and Democratic local government officials across the entire state.
Moreover, it appears to be in line with Republican ideology to cut government to an absolute minimum.
The main problem with this concept is that while many will agree with the Republican way of thinking in theory, when my street does not get repaved, my fire department's station gets closed, my neighborhood gets reduced policing, well!, that's a different matter altogether!!
Then, no!!! Government should not be cut.
Looking at HB 115 and its core provisions, it requires that applicants:
- Show evidence that their upcoming GRF budget will have a deficit due to the state’s reduction in local government funding.
- Show evidence that without the bridge funding, the local government will have to curtail direct services that the local government provides to its citizens.
- The local government must also show evidence that the growth in its budget has been proportional to its growth in population over the last ten years. If the growth in the local government’s GRF budget is greater than the growth of its population, the local government must state the reasons for the disproportional growth in their budget.
- The local government shall provide a two-year plan for developing and implementing more efficiencies and cost saving measures to balance their budget and identify opportunities to collaborate with other local governments to share services and reduce costs. The plan shall show how the bridge funds will sustain direct services until the cost saving measures are executed.
- If the local government encounters any statutory restrictions that would impede the implementation of what they are planning, they should submit the plan as if there were not any statutory restrictions and cite in their plan the legislative action that would be necessary for their plan to be implemented.
- The local government can request bridge funding for an amount up to the total reduction they experienced in state local government funding. The amount available will be the difference in the funds they received from the state between FY11 and FY12 and FY11 and FY13.
But it seems that it will do little to cope with the actual problem of deficient local government funding at a level to meet expectations of citizens to have local governments in a financial position to meet their demands for day-in, day-out services.
But he has kept his promise to do something in the way of helping, hasn't he?