OLC testified on HB 166, the biennial state budget bill, on Thurs., April 11 in front of the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education.
Michelle Francis, OLC’s Director of Government and Legal Services, told lawmakers that state funding for Ohio’s public libraries has not increased with inflation or fully recovered from the recession. She also pointed out that since 2001, the Public Library Fund (PLF) has been cut by more than $113 million – a 23% reduction in funding.
In Governor Mike DeWine’s state budget proposal released in March, he highlighted the work and importance of Ohio’s public libraries and kept the PLF at 1.68% of the General Revenue Fund (GRF).
“Making public libraries a priority in this budget and maintaining the PLF at 1.68% is a step in the right direction.,” Francis said. “However, there are still several unknowns in the budget process between now and June 30 that could impact the state’s GRF base and ultimately reduce the PLF. We are continuing to urge the Ohio House to restore the PLF to our 2008 levels of funding.”
Francis explained that Ohio’s public libraries are simply looking for revenue stability in an effort to respond to the needs of Ohio’s citizens and the growing demand for services. She said that this is only possible with adequate funding.
“State funding through the PLF is critically important because it remains a primary source of revenue for public libraries. Statewide, more than 48% of the total funding for Ohio’s public libraries comes from the state through the PLF,” she added. “In addition, 20% of Ohio’s public library systems do not have a local property tax levy and rely solely on their state funding as their main source of revenue for day-to-day operations.”
Francis urged members of the Ohio House to make public libraries a priority in the budget, to restore the PLF to 2008 levels of funding, and to hold public libraries harmless from any additional reductions in state funding.
The testimony was covered live on the Ohio Channel and a video recording is available on the Ohio Channel website.
A transcript of the testimony is also available on the OLC website.