OHIO HOUSE REP. Jack Cera is one of the co-sponsors of House Bill 17.
The bill, should it eventually gain passage, would help channel hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the Ohio Valley.
The legislation would return the Local Government Funding back to the level of 2005. Local Government Fund money has been methodically eroding away, creating headaches for our Eastern Ohio governmental entities.
It is safe to say we are staunch supporters of House Bill 17 as it would enable those entities to restore some of the basic services they have been forced to reduce due to state funding cutbacks. Fire, police and street-lighting, as well as many other services, have felt the brunt of a lack of money.
"The purpose of this legislation is simple. Our local communities are struggling to make ends meet and provide basic vital services. We can alleviate their financial burden by reinstating cuts to the Local Government Fund. The safety of our citizens is at risk and I believe enough is enough," Cera said. The Bellaire native is dead on the money. Due to the Local Government Fund cutbacks over the course of the past several years, safety has been compromised. House Bill 17, which has been assigned to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee for consideration, would be the financial shot-in-the-arm to boost ailing local coffers.
Cera noted the state budget was balanced to the detriment of local governments and schools. He said that now that the state is projecting a large budget surplus it should help local communities recover.
We agree. The state needs to give back some of the surplus to help those same entities it has stripped of vital funding for years.
Since 2008, when the four-year freeze of local government funds ended, money to Belmont County has been reduced from $3,263,471.26 to $2,025,705 in 2012 and $1,548,445.47 in 2013. Shortchanging the county by nearly $2 million yields many hardships.
With that said, House Bill 17 can serve as the vehicle for delivering money back to Eastern Ohio.