There’s not much in Butler County that hasn’t been impacted by former state lawmaker Mike Fox.
He sponsored and pushed to enact more than 100 pieces of legislation — either a bill or an amendment — as a member of the Ohio General Assembly from 1975 to 1997. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars were directed to Butler County projects.
Here are five projects Fox pushed or led during his nearly 23-year career in the Statehouse that had wide-reaching impact on the county, and the state:
The Transportation Improvement District: Fox authored legislation that created the TID, which are designed to promote intergovernmental and public-private partnerships of transportation projects. This was done through House Bill 154 in the 120th General Assembly. The Ohio Department of Transportation's Office of Jobs and Commerce was set to award $4.5 million in TID projects after July 1, 2017.
The Regional Highway: The TID bill also provided nearly $160 million in funding for the Butler County Regional Highway, which was initially named for Fox. The 11-mile stretch of Ohio 129 opened up a direct route to Hamilton from Interstate 75, and all communities in between. Bridgewater Falls was made possible because of the regional highway.
Union Center Boulevard: Union Center Boulevard was the linchpin that helped West Chester Twp. grow to be the largest township in the state. West Chester Twp. was under 40,000 residents in 1990, but has grown to estimated 62,000 residents in 2017.
SchoolNet Plus: Fox offered an amendment in the biennial budget bill in the 121st General Assembly that established SchoolNet Plus, a technology program providing $500 million in technology for Ohio's schools. The program guaranteed children in Ohio schools, from kindergarten through 4th-grade, would have access to a computer. It afforded to have one computer for every five children. In the 122nd General Assembly, Fox introduced the final funding phase ($125 million) for SchoolNet Plus, and additional funds for schools not initially targeted to receive funds in the first round. Butler County received approximately $12 million to purchase computers.
Welfare benefits: Fox offered an amendment in House Bill 530, a supplemental appropriations bill passed in the 114th General Assembly, that required "all able-bodied welfare recipients" to work in exchange for their benefits, and provided Medicaid benefits to those who get jobs in the private sector and earn less than a specified amount in order to not lose medical benefits if they go to work. The amendment also provided for intensive assistance to find employment.
Michael D. Pitman has been a reporter in southwest Ohio since 1999. He's covered local governments in Warren and Butler counties, as well as state and national issues. He currently covers the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton.