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

photo of John Begala
JO INGLES
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

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.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.