The Ohio Senate GOP Giveth… And Taketh Away In Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

Senate Republicans’ Budget Plan Takes $35M From Cities That Levy Local Income Tax

COLUMBUS — After years of balancing the state budget on the backs of local governments, Ohio Senate Republicans are planning to do the exact same thing this year to fill a nearly billion-dollar budget hole, while pretending to boost funding to address the nation’s worst opioid crisis.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper: “Columbus Republicans were completely disingenuous when they announced yesterday that they were boosting funding to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic. Upon closer inspection, the Senate GOP’s budget proposal takes money from local municipalities — which are still struggling to deal with past cuts from the state, while doing everything they can to fight the heroin crisis — to pay for their supposed funding increase. Once again, Ohio Republicans care more about headlines and PR than taking real action.”

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley: “The heroin epidemic is a crisis that crosses party lines, race and class. Cities are on the frontline of this battle every day as police and firefighters respond to heroin emergencies multiple times an hour.  The Senate Republicans’ proposal to raid local government funds to pay for the state’s anti-heroin efforts will debilitate cities in combating heroin at ground zero of this crisis.

“Cincinnati is deploying resources that are not only life-saving, but we are engaging our partners to use data and innovation to address the root of this issue and propose long-term solutions. Heroin is a public health emergency that cannot be resolved in the confines of the Statehouse alone. The state refuses to provide resources for this epidemic and is stealing money from cities.”

Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson: “I’m glad the state is addressing Ohio’s opioid crisis, but cutting local governments’ funding to do so isn’t the solution.”

READ MORE:

Cincinnati Enquirer: GOP wants to take local money to pay for Ohio’s state heroin fight

Don’t take money from cities’ drug-fighting efforts to pay for the state’s battle against the opiate epidemic, Democrats say.

A proposal from Senate Republicans would strip up to $35.3 million over two years from cities with income taxes and instead direct that money toward fighting the state’s opiate problem.

City employees are already on the front lines of the opiate crisis, reviving addicts with Naloxone and investigating drug sales, Democrats argue. Taking money cities use to fight heroin and giving it to the state to do the same thing makes no sense, they say.

“We think it’s the wrong direction,” said Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, which represents cities.

Senate Republicans want to take the money from cities that levy an income tax: 614 of the state’s 940 municipalities, including Cincinnati. When the state created its income tax, officials agreed to give some money to cities with income taxes to offset the higher rate citizens would pay.

That sounds great, Democrats say, but don’t use money from cities to pay for it. Cuts force cities to place levies on the ballot to make up the difference, they say.

“The Senate Republicans’ proposal to raid local government funds to pay for the state’s anti-heroin efforts will debilitate cities in combating heroin at ground zero of this crisis,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in a statement.

Sen. Joe Schiavoni, a Democratic contender for Ohio governor, had proposed taking $200 million from the $2 billion rainy-day reserves to pay for the needed addiction treatment. But Republicans have been reticent to dip into reserves.

“They are holding onto this rainy-day fund like nothing is going on,” said Mike Premo, chief of staff for Senate Democrats. “It is a fiscal crisis.”

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