What do Butler County leaders want to see from Ohio’s new governor?

FILE: The scramble is on for cabinet director positions in the administration of Gov.-elect Mike DeWine. BROOKE LAVALLEY/THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
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FILE: The scramble is on for cabinet director positions in the administration of Gov.-elect Mike DeWine. BROOKE LAVALLEY/THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Local political and business leaders hope Gov. Mike DeWine will help Southwest Ohio by restoring the local government fund cuts nearly a decade ago, and making pro-business moves and developing a skilled workforce.

Today is the first day of the DeWine administration, so here’s what Butler County leaders had to say on the direction they want to see the new governor take:

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller
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Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller

"The thing I'd like to see Gov. DeWine do most is some how, some way restore the funding from the local government funds. That’s absolutely have been taken away from us, and it would be nice if he'd be a fan of local government and start to give that money back so we can use it.

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“It's just been awful the last 10 years with the way they've dried up all the local government funds with the money coming from Columbus. They keep it, they don't share it.

"John Kasich, he left the state with a huge rainy day fund where everybody else is scavenging. (Locally), you have to either raise taxes or cut services to balance budgets. We're talking things like infrastructure, economic development, and important things to grow and make your city or community better, and that's really where we need the help with. Give us our strength back.”

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller
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Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller

“Gov. DeWine does know Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. He has been here before. He’s worked with our public safety professionals on things.

“First I’d like to see the local government fund formula be change so an increased amount is going out to cities and villages, even if that increased amount is earmarked for road repair or the like.

“I’d also like to see brownfield money go back to being grants instead of loans. Hamilton in particular has been a poster city for good use for brownfield money, from Kroger to Matandy to other companies that have sprung up from where there brownfields before.

“I’d like to see state dollars go towards jobs shuttles, job transportation with the hope people can save money up to buy a car or keep it green for less cars on our streets.  Of course, I want to make sure there’s enough money, a reasonable amount of money in the rain day fund but not billions and billions of dollars over what it needs to be.

“I’d also like to see increase pedestrian crosswalk safety … it seams like in every city I drive in, there’s more aggressive drives.”

Butler County Republican Party Executive Director Todd Hall

Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall 
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Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall 

“It is comforting to know that we have a governor and lieutenant governor who are both native to our region, both good conservatives, and both know how to make an economy work with less government and smart growth.

“Mike Dewine and Jon Husted are more than names around here; they are real leaders who connect with people and promote businesses and communities working together. Look for solid job growth, a focus on technological advancement, educational opportunities that mirror current and future career trends, and open communications with area governments to promote the sharing of ideas and information”

Butler County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Hester

Butler County Democratic Party Executive Director Brian Hester
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Butler County Democratic Party Executive Director Brian Hester

“Ohio’s downward slide under nearly 30 years of GOP rule won’t stop until Ohio makes college affordable to its residents. Farming is our largest source of exports in Ohio, so I’d like to see him push the federal government to do more to help Butler County soybean farmers taking it on the chin during this trade stalemate with China. In general, we hope he keeps his commitments to labor.

“Ohio needs a state budget that restores state funding for local governments and schools so we can get some property tax relief here in Butler County. We also need legislation to expand access to affordable child care and paid leave for working families.”

Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon:

Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon
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Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon

“Mike DeWine has spent his whole life in different segments of government. He understands it, he understands local government. He and I have had the discussion before about unfunded mandates. When you hear someone’s coming from Columbus to help us, you know that’s not good. He understands that most solutions are local, and it’s better to let local entities keep their local money instead of sending it somewhere else and not getting half of it back. I’m pretty excited about it.

“I think that they need to look at keeping the local government money here. Let’s not require us to send (local dollars) to send it up there, they count it and they send it back.

“And he understands it, that unfunded mandates are a big deal. It’s not not just one big thing, it’s a bunch of little things. They send requirements that they want more reporting, they want more requirements, they want more oversight, they want another division set up over here in ABC department reporting to some other department. All that takes personnel and more resouces, and no money comes with it. Then they want to reach in and cut the local government fund.”

Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer

Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer
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Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer

"I would hope that they would take a look at the local government fund because in the prior administration there were some cuts in the local government funds to help strengthen the rainy day fund. I get that, but when they cut the local government fund they hurt townships. I'd really hope they'd take another look at that.

“I think there's recent legislation to put a little more back in the local government, and I like to see that trend continue because that helps us not have to look at taxes again so much.

"Roads, I'd like to see more attention to (funding) for local roads. That could also be accomplished through strengthening the local government fund."

Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan

Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan
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Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan

"I think the big focus in this region, statewide needs to be on ongoing workforce development; driving additional opportunities for jobs. The fact is, we have a lot of jobs available but it's really getting people skilled up to get those jobs, or getting them connected with employers. I think we're seeing that, especially in Middletown."

"Our labor participation rate is a little lower than state average so, (finding) ways we can get help people get connected to employment has got to be a priority. It benefits them, benefits the city, benefits the state and benefits the employers.

"Our other big need is going to be on infrastructure, working on road improvements, making sure we've got funding to support that. It's certainly has been a challenge. I'm cautiously optimistic that maybe they'll be some portion of the local government fund restored to support local infrastructure needs and address that."

Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton

Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton
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Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton

“I look forward to working with Gov. DeWine in many issues near and dear to my heart, such as economic development, education and infrastructure, and I’ve discussed many of these items with him during our campaigns (in 2018).”

“I’ll be an advocate for my local communities working with my local officials. Needless to say I want to help the governor and the (Ohio) Senate so we all can work hand in hand to lower taxes, bring jobs to our area and see an even bigger revitalization in our area. The governor and I spoke a great deal early in the campaign season (in 2018) about how to make the school safety issue a priority, and I hope we can find answers together with all the branches of government.”

Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.

Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.
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Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.

"The only thing I work on is pro-business legislation. My goal is to make Ohio the most business-friendly state in the nation. We have four pillars of the business-first caucus and I want to see Gov. DeWine attack those four pillars with me.

"I met with up in Columbus what's referred to as the big six, which are the big six pro-business groups, and they have told us what they're priorities are, and our first business-first caucus is going to be when we reconvene in Columbus. Everything we're focusing on is pro-business initiatives.

"I hope to see us pass laws that allow businesses come to Ohio and make more money. We made West Chester the most business-friendly community in the state of Ohio and as a result our business and citizens have flourished and prospered. We put business needs ahead of resident needs in West Chester and as a result the number one median household income in West Chester, not one tax increase to our general fund in over 20 years, right here in West Chester. The highest bond rating than anyone else in the state, right here in West Chester. None of that is by accident. When you put business first, the residents prosper, the school districts prosper. Everybody benefits as a result of it.

"Right now, Ohio is not very business friendly. We're the eighth most left state in the nation. Not from a political or an ideological perspective, but from residents leaving our state to go to other state. And the number one reason residents leave: better economic opportunity elsewhere."

West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch

West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch
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West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch

“Gov. DeWine appointed Jack Marchbanks as the Ohio Department of Transportation director, and just coming from the OKI meeting they were talking about this. OKI has a wonderful working relationship with Jack. As you know the OKI Regional Council of Governments is basically the conduit for federal money for road improvement projects and multi-modal transportation. We expect that with that relationship that we’re going to streamline the process of improvements, whether it’s traffic signaling or whether it’s bridges, or like I said multi-modal transportation, or highways, so that was a great thing Gov. DeWine did for us here.

“Not really knowing his agenda at this point, as someone who sees the value of business growth I would like to see a focus on manufacturing, bringing more manufacturing jobs to Southwest Ohio. I know there are various tools to get that done. Manufacturing is very important, and brings in the kinds of jobs and the kind of pay you want to have. West Chester has also done well in logistics; it’s grown tremendously in West Chester.”

Cheryl Subler, of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio

“I think the incoming administration has been prioritizing and saying how they want to prioritize kids and families. That’s fabulous, that’s great news. And then there’s also some who would like to work with local governments to address mandated services and unfunded mandates, to take some pressure off of their general funds.”

Ross Twp. Administrator Bob Bass

Ross Twp. Administrator Bob Bass
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Ross Twp. Administrator Bob Bass

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

Ross Twp. Administrator Bob Bass said the loss of local government funds put the township in the difficult predicament of asking residents to either pass a police levy or face the possibility of not having a police department.

“I think that’s a pretty dire picture. I don’t know if it would be possible to keep the police department going without income. We’ve lost a good portion of our general fund to the tax cuts that Gov. Kasich put in. It’s just not like the old days when the general fund can handle everything.”

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