Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld - joined by elected officials from several of Ohio's major cities - has created a web site to drum up public support to restore all of the the nearly $3 billion in cuts to the Local Government Fund made by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature two years ago.
Sittenfeld's council campaign committee has set up a website, www.ProtectMyOhio.com, where people can sign an on-line petition asking Kasich and the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly to give the money from this year's expected state surplus back to local communities.
"The governor is bragging about a budget he created on the backs of local governments and their citizens,'' Sittenfeld said in a phone conference with reporters this morning.
Two years ago, Republicans in the legislature passed a budget which included deep cuts in the Local Government Fund. Previously, the state had returned 3.68 percent of its general revenue to local governments through the Local Government Fund. That percentage was cut to 1.69 percent.
The budget Kasich presented to the Republican-dominated legislature last month includes a surplus of about $1 billion, which he and Republicans in the legislature say should go into the state's "rainy day" fund. Democrats in the legislature want to see the money returned to local governments and school districts.
The legislature also did away with the estate tax, which sent billions to local governments over the years.
Sittenfeld was joined on the conference call by three other Democratic council members from major Ohio cities - Nan Whaley of Dayton, Joe MacNamara of Toledo, and Zach Klein of Columbus.
"It was a loss of $12 million for the city of Cincinnati alone,'' Sittenfeld said. "And that meant no police cadet class, brown-outs at fire stations and other cuts in city services."
"This is real money that affects peoples' lives,'' Klein said.