On a Tuesday morning conference call, municipal leaders called on John Kasich to veto HB 5, a bill that would significantly limit the ability of individual municipalities to dictate and enforce their own tax collection process at the local level, potentially resulting in the loss of about $82 million if signed into law.  The bill is now headed to the governor for his signature.

In the waning days of a friendly GOP legislature, HB 5 crossed the finish line after requests by opponents to amend the bill fell on deaf ears. Local government officials from across the state are very concerned that HB 5 can and will result in large revenue losses beyond the cuts already suffered from the state’s twice-elected hard-right governor.

On the call Thursday morning was Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), President of “Moving Ohio Forward,” Mayor Jamie Healy, City of Canton, Mayor Nan Whaley, City of Dayton, Councilman Ryan Jolley, City of Gahanna and Auditor Luke Feeney, City of Chillicothe, each of whom asked Gov. Kasich to veto the bill and allow for more time to craft a new bill that will not bring drastic cuts to our local governments.

Gahanna Councilman Ryan Jolley said his suburban Columbus community could lose nearly another $200,000 on top of the $1.3 million it lost when Kasich made billions in cuts in his first budget to local governments. “HB 5 is not an answer,” he said today.

Mayor Jamie Healy of the City of Canton, whose second job is president of the Ohio Municipal League, said he’s disappointed with the final HB 5 product. Commenting on the coming cuts if Gov. Kasich signs the bill, which is widely expected to happen, Mayor Healy said Canton stands to lose as much as another $1 million on top of the previous Kasich cuts to local government funding. “We can’t make them up,” he said, adding that the bill reduces local control and creates new bureaucracies. Mayor Healy wondered how cities like Canton will be able to respond to the future service needs of citizens. “This bill makes it harder,” he said, noting that there’s “lots of misinformation out there” and that very few of the Ohio Municipal League’s priorities were included in the final bill. “They were saying one thing and doing another,” he told reporters.

When Gov. Kasich signs the bill, as he’s expected to do, what recourse do opponents of the bill have? Mayor Healy said bill backers may have overstepped their boundaries on the issue of home rule, which allows certain cities to go beyond state law. Canton’s mayor underscored the fact that most Ohioans live in cities, and that he hopes Gov. Kasich represents the majority of Ohioans.

Moving Ohio Forward is a coalition of workers, individuals and progressive organizations seeking to educate voters on the issues that matter to Ohio.

 

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