Elected officials, police and fire union leaders, and public agency representatives called on Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday to restore funds that were cut from local government, schools, and libraries as part of Ohio's two-year budget.
State Rep. Michael Ashford (D. Toledo), said deep cuts in the governor's conservative spending plan, which the Ohio General Assembly passed last year, have hurt education, senior citizens' services, and local police and fire protection, and money from a larger-than-expected surplus should be shared with local government and agencies.
"Since a year and half ago and because of these budget cuts, the governor has been able to amass nearly $500 million in a rainy-day fund while letting kids go uneducated," Mr. Ashford said during a news conference at the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association Union Hall.
Local governments, libraries, school districts, and other agencies suffered drastic reductions under the budget plan and face more severe cuts during the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2013.
The eight public school districts in the county lost $24 million in state funds and are to face an additional $35 million cuts next year, Mr. Ashford said.
Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said that because revenue collections come from county residents, it is unfair of Mr. Kasich not to return money that is used for public safety and state-mandated services at the local level.
She said an additional $3.5 million is to be cut from the county's funds in 2013.
"The governor boasts, and literally goes to the point of bragging, about a surplus that has been created in state government," the Democratic commissioner said. "Quit bragging and quit talking about the surplus and recognize that you are using local Lucas County government taxpayers'-dollar funds to have your own surplus at the state level."
The Republican governor has said he doesn't want to spend any of the surplus and has hinted that he favors lowering the state's income tax rate.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said reserves will be needed to offset Ohio's share of costs for the federal health-care law in 2014 and 2015.
"The idea that there is a big surplus lying around is misguided and wrong," he said.
The current two-year state budget cuts school and local government support by about $1.4 billion in basic operating funds.
Among the hardest hit has been the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Library spokesman Rhonda Sewell said the countywide system is operating with state funding at 1996 levels.
"Operating on a level so low is really, really a shame. It is a disservice to Lucas County residents and patrons who come to us," Ms. Sewell said at the news conference.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.