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Advocates Push for an Equalization Fund to Help Ohio's Rural Communities

photo of John Begala

A study released in 2016 showed rural areas are disproportionately poor, uneducated and pay relatively high costs for crime and disability because of the loss of good jobs, local businesses and opioid abuse. But there’s an idea being floated to establish a special state fund for those rural counties.

Under the plan, a two-year, $110 million equalization fund would be established to help counties that lack local revenues to meet basic needs.

The Center for Community Solutions’ did that study, and researcher John Begala says many people in rural communities often have to go elsewhere to spend dollars, leaving their hometowns without a sales tax base to deal with local needs.

“What worked for 100 years is just simply out of whack and we need to revisit the entire revenue sharing system of state and local government in Ohio,” he said.

The fund could be tapped to fight the opioid crisis, develop economic programs that increase sales tax revenue or to cover general county expenses. Republican former lawmaker Gene Krebs, who’s now running for state senate, says the fund would expire after a decade.