May 6, 2019 North Royalton Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw & Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck House Bill 166 Joint Testimony before Ohio House Finance Committee

Chairman Oelslager, Vice Chair Scherer, Ranking Member Cera, and committee members. My name is Dan Langshaw and I am the Ward 3 Councilman on the North Royalton City Council. I am also accompanied by my colleague North Royalton Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck. Thank you for the opportunity for us both to testify on House Bill 166 the State Operating Budget.

The residents we both 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 looking you in the mirror. It is the leadership in Columbus for almost a decade that has caused this mess. 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.

Governor DeWine’s proposed budget includes a 9.1% increase to the Local Government Fund (LGF) in FY 2020 and a 1.8% increase in FY 2021. However, the Governor does not go far enough especially in FY 2021 to fully make up for the historic cuts that cities like ours 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 and not kicked down the road for another biennium budget to tackle.

The late Congressman Ralph Regula once said that people underestimate the impact they can have by contacting their legislators. We hope our participation today can help bring about positive change and we do wish to highlight some brighter notes as progress is being made. The recently passed state transportation budget, Substitute House Bill 62 contains such examples.

Specifically, as a result of the gas tax adjustment, communities can expect an increase in state funding for road repair and maintenance. North Royalton’s increase is forecasted to be $730,000 – an increase of over 64%. To add context, this would equate to the cost of repairing 66,000 linear feet, or 12.2 miles, of concrete roadways. These additional funds could allow our very talented service department to increase our preventative infrastructure maintenance work and put the City in the driver’s seat to take full advantage of favorable material costs. I know many members of this Committee have previous local government service experience and know infrastructure repairs are a clear example of tax dollars being used for community improvement.

We urge members of this Committee and the General Assembly to increase the investment in Ohio’s communities by amending HB 166 to restore the Local Government Fund back to per-recession levels of 3.68% by FY 2021. We understand that this won’t fully restore all the cuts the state has made since 2011 but it would be a step in the right direction to help the Ohioans we all serve. We know that investing these funds back into our local communities will only yield positive results.

Thank you for the opportunity to advocate for our residents.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have for us.