The state legislature is working to finalize Ohio's next biennium budget by June 30.
At a news conference on Friday, June 19, the Governor proposed a cut to state funding for public libraries of $227.3 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 as part of his plan to fill the $3.2 billion gap in the budget that must be balanced by the Ohio General Assembly's Conference Committee by June 30. This will mean a more than 50% cut in funding for many of Ohio's public libraries. Libraries could close or face significant reductions in operations as a result of the Governor's proposal. This cut is in addition to the 20% reduction in funding that libraries are already facing, because their funding comes from 2.22% of the state’s declining General Revenue Fund.
With some 70% of the state's 251 public libraries relying solely on state funding to fund their operations, the reduction in funding will mean that many will close branches or drastically reduce hours and services.
The Governor's proposed funding cuts come at a time when Ohio's public libraries are experiencing unprecedented increases in demands for services. In every community throughout the state, Ohioans are turning to their public library for free high speed Internet access and help with employment searches, children and teens are beginning summer reading programs, and people of all ages are turning to the library as a lifeline during these difficult economic times. Ohio's public libraries offer CRITICAL services to those looking for jobs and operating small businesses. Public libraries are an integral part of education, which Governor Strickland says is critical to the state's economic recovery. But it is unlikely that many of Ohio's public library systems, especially those without local levies, can remain open with these proposed cuts.
About 30% of Ohio's public libraries have local property tax levies that supplement the state's funding. However, with the Governor's proposed drastic cuts in the state funding for libraries, even those libraries will face decisions regarding substantial reductions in hours of operation, materials, and staffing.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Contact your legislators!
Let your state legislators and the governor know what your library means to you!
Massillon-area residents can call or email below to contact their elected officials:
- Governor Ted Strickland
Contact online: http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/tabid/153/Default.aspx
- Senator Bill Harris, President of the Senate
- Senator John Carey, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
- Senator J. Kirk Schuring, 29th District
- Representative Armond Budish, Speaker of the House
- Representative Vernon Sykes, Chairman of the House Finance Committee
- Representative Todd Snitchler, 50th District (Brewster, Navarre)
- Representative W. Scott Oelslager, 51st District (Massillon/Jackson)
- Representative Stephen Slesnick, 52nd District (Canton)
Spread the word!
After contacting your legislators, help us spread the word to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Here are some suggestions:
- Update your Facebook or Twitter status to read:
_____ contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries and you should too. Find out more: http://tinyurl.com/save-oh-lib
- Send an email to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues:
"Ohio libraries are in jeopardy. I contacted the governor and my legislators to let them know what my library means to me. Find out how you can help, too: http://tinyurl.com/save-oh-lib"For more information, please visit:
Save Ohio Libraries
OLC News: Governor's Budget Proposal Cuts the PLF by 50%
Governor's Proposed Budget Framework
(Special thanks to Sherie Brown, Head of Reference Services at the Massillon Public Library, for organizing and composing the information provided in this posting!)