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Hagan criticizes Kasich plans to limit funds for local projects



Published: Sun, November 27, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Columbus Dispatch and Vindicator staff report

COLUMBUS

A proposed state construction budget will be limited, unlikely to fund new buildings, and contain no money for community projects craved by local leaders, the Kasich administration says.

State leaders usually pass a construction budget every two years to fund about $1.5 billion worth of construction projects at state prisons, universities, schools and other state agencies, along with a variety of road, bridge and water projects. But financial and political forces combined to persuade then-Gov. Ted Strickland not to introduce one in 2010.

The most-recent capital budget, in 2008, had about $120 million for community projects.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown, says he expects Kasich to use the construction budget as a way to punish those communities that didn’t support Senate Bill 5, the controversial collective-bargaining law for public workers that voters overturned this month.

“He had strong feelings toward that [Senate Bill 5], and I think that will be reflective when he starts awarding capital projects,” Hagan said Saturday.

“I don’t put anything past this governor. He’s shown vindictiveness for those who didn’t support him.”

Hagan says he remembers when the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and governor each controlled $100 million for community projects and wonders if the governor will just take control of it all this time.

Kasich will argue that there’s no money for construction projects, but that’s because tax breaks to corporations took the money away, Hagan said.

Ohio can borrow another $2.75 billion for the new construction budget, but state Budget Director Tim Keen said the administration has no interest in going that high. A recent memo from Keen to state agencies said it is “imperative” that the capital bill be restrained and focus on necessary maintenance, “with an extremely high threshold that would have to be met in order to fund new construction.”

Hagan said that threshold also could pose problems for areas such as the Mahoning Valley, because most communities here don’t have the funds to provide matching money of 30 percent, 40 percent or 50 percent.

Among the projects that have been funded in Youngstown with community construction funds are ones that cleaned up the Mahoning River and assisted the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, Paramount Theater, Stambaugh Auditorium and Ballet Western Reserve.

The state construction budget also provides money for prison operations, Youngstown State University, and roads and bridges, Hagan said, noting that YSU got a new cooling system recently with the funds.

“These projects are nice to have, but not necessities,” Keen said. “We ought to take care of the necessities first. These are not core responsibilities of the state.”

For every $100 million borrowed in a capital budget, the state pays about $60 million in interest over 20 years, if the interest rate is 5 percent (it is lower now). Some Republican leaders worry about the shaky national economic future.

“It’s not responsible to commit to spend more money than you can reasonably expect to pay back in the future,” Keen said.

Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, agreed. “You have to evaluate how prudent it is to borrow money in this economic environment,” he said. “There always are very worthwhile programs. But how much do you want to borrow to pay for those programs?”

But some say that with Ohio’s unemployment still around 9 percent and local governments struggling with state budget cuts, now is not the time to trim state construction dollars.

“This is a time that we need dollars put into our communities to spur economic development and job creation, rather than funneling it to private corporations through JobsOhio,” said Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood. “I think it’s a failure and hurts job creation in this state when we don’t do a capital budget that supports local community projects.”

Dan Williamson, spokesman for Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, a Democrat, called the lack of community funds “disappointing.”

“We certainly understand the balance, that there is not as much money as you like, but these things do play a role in stimulating the economy,” he said.

So what will the bill fund when it is introduced, probably after February? There are significant questions regarding how much will go toward state universities and the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

Keeping the program funded at current levels would require $800 million to $1.2 billion in new revenue.


Comments

1youngstownsteve(74 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh for the good old days with Governor Strickland! Can't wait til the vindictive idiot and his minions are voted out!

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2chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Strickland poached the tobacco settlement fund to pay the salaries of his union cronies. Teddy failed to pass a budget, I suppose this was his plan for turning Ohio around.

Yes Y-steve those were the good old days of fiscal irresponsibility

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3ytownsteelman(627 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

What is it with Democrats and an inability to pass budgets? Obama and congress can't seem to pass one either.

The days of borrowing and spending are over Steve. Get it through your thick head! Are YOU borrowing money to remodel your house right now?

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4stewie(109 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

We got rid of sb5 now it's time to get rid of s.o.b.

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5commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

stewie, typical liberal B.S.!! If you don't have a solution --just call them names!!!
If we are going to vote for everthing you liberals don't like then let's get rid of the Representaives and Senators and let the PEOPLE vote on all bills directly--look at all of the money we would save by not having all of the "freeloaders" (both Dems and Repubs) in the system

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6Phil_EngAmer(32 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

It really shouldn’t be looked at as punishment. It’s more just a realistic look at what faces the state. The troubles facing Youngstown and all of Ohio didn’t magically disappear after the SB5 vote. You’re still left with a huge compensation issue in the state. As you saw on the exact same day of the SB5 vote, Ohioans, when given the choice, want little to do with tax levies that would attempt to help fund the public sector (http://eng.am/vXAwy4). As a result, where does the money come to fund the public sector? You’re either faced with layoffs (http://eng.am/t7B58P), or you have to raid funds that would help the city.

When you have compensation disparity in the public sector, you threaten not only the social infrastructure of the state when you lose invaluable public employees, but also the physical infrastructure of the state as you lose the ability to upgrade the state.

In order for the collective bargaining process to work you have to recognize that every contract has consequences, and when you ignore mounting problems, all suffer.

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7Wapiti(139 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

All this crying over contracts! Tell me who held a gun to anyone's head to agree to them? NO ONE was forced to agree!

Kasich is a one termer. We know it and so does he.

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8SkyKing310B(253 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I am so sick of hearing Hagan and all the other liberal crybabies talk about no money to spend. Let's take a look at Youngstown. The city and state spent $180 million building new schools over the last 6-8 years. What did they get- still the worst district in the state, they can't afford to operate them and the student population keeps dropping. Why would anyone move to this area? highest taxes in the state, highest crime in the state, #1 poverty rate in the US. Gee, Seems like a great place to raise a family.

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9SkyKing310B(253 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Wapiti-the taxpayers had a gun held to their heads to accept these contracts. In many cases out-of-state mediators told elected officials they had to accept these contacts.

The voters elect the officials to set budgets and live within them. When the above happens they, as well as the voters, lose control of the budget. The only alternative is to withhold tax dollars so the workers face layoffs to keep the budget in balance.

Maybe SB5 went a little too far but the principles behind the idea were sound.

Public employees have way too generous fringe benefits relative to the private sector and they need to be adjusted. No one should be able to bank more than 30 days sick time and 30 days vacation time to protect against unexpected short term illness and injury. Beyond that, any sick or vacation time that is not used during the year should be paid to the employees in the 1st qtr of the following year so we don't see government entities faced with owing retiring employees $231,000 in unused sick and vacation time. This is absolutely ludicrous.

Maybe you don't like Kasich's approach, but he is one of the few that are actually trying to protect the taxpayers from idiots like Bobby "American Flyer" Hagan. He ought to get out of the way and stay home to play with his trains.

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10VindyPost(436 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

This is what Jim Mora says.
A spinoff regarding Kasich.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYx...

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11SkyKing310B(253 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

VindyPost- What Jim Mora said had nothing to do with this article or the discussion at hand. If you can't make an intelligent contribution stay out of the conversation.

Remember what Mark Twain said, " It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

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12VindyPost(436 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

^^^^ HAHAHAHA ^^^^
L O L ! ! !

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13SkyKing310B(253 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

You are right FE. Hagan has got to go. The only problem is that the voters here keep sending the idiot back!

Until the people here demand results and send reps to Columbus and DC that have Vision, this area will continue to be the #1 poverty area in the US.

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