Firefighters Push Ohio Lawmakers To Restore Local Funds 3 Years After SB5 Was Signed
A day after the third anniversary of Gov. John Kasich signing the controversial Senate Bill 5 into law - firefighters, police officers and elected officials rallied again at the statehouse. This time, they were in favor of restoring past budget cuts to local governments.
"Whenever our budget is cut, we've either had less firefighters through direct layoffs, through brown outs or company closures or through attrition," said Mark Sanders, president of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters. "Our job is labor intensive. There's nothing that replaces a firefighter or team of firefighters. So every dollar that has been taken away, and that's in the billions now, needs to come back to local governments."
Kasich and GOP lawmakers cut Ohio's $700 million Local Government Fund in half in 2011.
At the time, Kasich told 10TVs Jim Heath that it was necessary to help balance the states $8 billion budget hole.
"We made a lot of hard choices and decisions at the state level, and a lot of them, they don't want to make at the local level," said Kasich in 2011. "Let me go in and run their budgets."
Kasich's budget also eliminated the $300 million estate tax - most of that money went to local cities and towns.
Sanders says with a growing rainy day fund in the state budget - now is the time for Kasich and lawmakers to reconsider providing additional funding to local governments.
"We're here to support local officials who are asking the governor and legislature to replenish some of those funds," said Sanders. "The budget has been balanced, that's a fact, and we're working on a rainy day fund. But these policies that have stripped away local government funds, which is about the same balance as the rainy day fund – come on elected officials, here in Columbus let's replenish those dollars back to local communities who are struggling still to provide basic services."
Union officials are also bracing for what could be a repeat battle of the SB5 fight.
Petitions to place a Right to Work amendment on the ballot are being circulated. Organizers believe it could be on the ballot as early as next year.
Kasich has not said whether he would endorse that effort if he's reelected this November.