The OLC spoke before the full Senate Finance Committee today and urged lawmakers to maintain the PLF at 1.7%.
The OLC presented testimony today on behalf of Ohio’s public libraries before the full Senate Finance Committee. Kim Fender, Director, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and Michelle Francis, OLC Director of Government and Legal Services, focused on ensuring there are no additional cuts to the Public Library Fund (PLF).
The Senate continues to debate what will be included in their version of the state budget and it is anticipated they will make an additional $1.1 billion in cuts. Based on the latest information (the June PLF distribution
posted this morning), this could potentially reduce the PLF by more than $17.8 million (-4.7%) in fiscal year 2018 as compared to 2017. The OLC asked the Senate Finance Committee today to keep the current PLF percentage at 1.7% of the General Revenue Fund (GRF) and ensure that the PLF receives no less than the actual FY 2017 distribution amount.
“We understand that the Ohio Senate has difficult decisions to make as state revenues continue to come in below estimate. However, Ohio’s public libraries have already received cuts in state funding over the years and have yet to fully recover from the recession. Currently, public libraries receive $119 million LESS in state funding than what they received in 2001 – a 24% reduction in funding over the last 15 years with no adjustment for inflation,” Francis said.
Fender explained the real impact of the steady decrease in funding, “From 2000 to 2017 we saw a 59% increase in items borrowed, a 26% reduction in library funding, deferred $18 million in building repairs, reduced our hours of operation by 10%, and reduced our staffing by 20%. We also added a local property tax. At this point we can no longer meet the demand for our services with the funding we have, much less with reduced funding.”
Contact the Ohio Senate
There’s still time to contact members of the Ohio Senate
. Even if you have done so in the past, please call or e-mail your senator(s) again and use the OLC’s talking points
to convey our message to protect public library funding.