June 17, 2019 North Royalton Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw Substitute House Bill 166 Testimony before Ohio Senate Finance Committee

Chairman Dolan, Vice Chair Burke, Ranking Member Sykes, and committee members. My name is Dan Langshaw and I am the Ward 3 Councilman on the North Royalton City Council. Thank you for the opportunity once again testify on Substitute House Bill 166 the State Operating Budget this time in the Senate.

The residents I serve and all Ohioans wonder why there are so many communities having to put more levies, bond issues, and other ballot measures these days? Why are our highways, roads, bridges, and infrastructure falling apart in our state? The answer is local governments historically have not been getting the funding they desperately need to address these issues in our communities.

Repeatedly Columbus has raided the Local Government Fund (LGF). This is a complete betrayal against everything that this fund was established for dating back to 1930s. This funding is supposed to return money from Columbus back to the local governments who are the closest to ensuring the needs of the people that live in their respective communities. A study done by Policy Matters Ohio a few years ago reported that cuts in local government funds and tax changes made at the state level cost Ohio counties and communities an estimated $1.2 billion dollars in 2017, as compared to 2010. Since 2011 the state has made deep cuts to the Local Government Fund (LGF) through slashing it in half from 3.68% to 1.66% today. As a result our own city of North Royalton has experienced approximately $7 million dollars in state local government funding cuts.

It is disappointing that Substitute House Bill 166 that the House passed kicked down the road for another biennium budget to tackle the issue of the Local Government Fund by doing nothing. Again they did nothing to fully make up for the historic cuts that cities like mine have faced for close to a decade to their share of LGF. The state’s rainy day fund is now at a record high of $2.7 billion dollars while the needs of local governments like ours keep pouring down upon us.

This issue needs to be addressed now! My own city council recently passed a unanimous resolution reaffirming this position. In my joint testimony before the House Finance Committee last month with my colleague North Royalton Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck we stressed the importance of consistency and predictability with funding because helps us in deciding how to address urgent needs in our communities. I know many members of this Committee have previous local government service experience and understand first-hand what it is like to be in my shoes.

Today here in the Senate for the first time in about a decade I am hopeful about the State Operating Budget. Chairman Dolan represents my city for the 24th Ohio Senate District. After I testified last biennium budget before this very committee he made clear to me he would try to improve the LGF and work with local elected officials from Northeast Ohio to be better partners.

I want to thank you Mr. Chairman and Senators on this committee for increasing the Local Government Fund from 1.66% to 1.68% in Substitute House Bill 166. Which is a 2% increase for FY 20 and FY 21. Is this perfect? No. I still urge members of this Committee and the General Assembly to increase the investment in Ohio’s communities by fully restoring the Local Government Fund back to pre-recession levels of 3.68%. However, I am also realistic if the current Senate version of the budget is the best deal that can be made this biennium it is a step in the right direction to help the Ohioans we all serve. I urge the General Assembly to continue to work together with local governments like mine to hopefully someday fully restore the Local Government Fund so by the time my sons Henry and Derek are adults this no longer an issue for municipalities in our state.

Thank you for the opportunity to advocate for my residents.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.