Recently I joined with several lawmakers to announce a new proposal to help offset the impacts of last year’s historically deep state budget cuts to schools and local communities. The Kids & Communities First Fund uses surplus revenue to make up to $400 million available to schools and communities this year, and another $500 million if the Governor’s proposed severance tax increase takes effect.
The Kids and Communities First Fund would help keep teachers in the classroom, and police and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio. Additionally, this fund would help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers.
The Kids and Communities First Fund was offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487). The fund would make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from the Governor’s proposed severance tax increase. The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.
Lawmakers calculated that districts are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014. This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education.
Failing to address last year’s deep budget cuts could hurt our schools and make Ohio less economically competitive. Doing nothing could keep forcing local taxes to go up and put more pressure on middle class Ohioans. Our state is only as strong as our schools and our local communities. If we do nothing I believe it will hurt our children’s education, weaken safety services in our communities and create even more pressure on local property taxpayers.
The Kids & Communities First Fund would be available as early as July 2012, when the current fiscal year ends. It would make up to $400 million available for schools and communities to apply for an emergency relief grant. After fiscal year 2013, the fund would be supported by the severance tax increase as proposed by the Governor and a portion of that funding would be available to protect local communities that are most affected by hydraulic fracturing through a local impact grant.
I hope you’ll make plans now to join me for my next “Lundy Listens” town hall June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Sheffield Village Municipal Complex (4340 Colorado Ave.). I look forward to meeting with you. Also, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about state government at 614-644-5076 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. I work for you and look forward to serving you.