Ohio’s 88 counties serve as the administrative partners of the state by providing vital services. A strong partnership between state and county government is critical to the quality of life and prosperity of Ohio and its residents. State-mandated services include elections, justice and public safety, infrastructure, and human services. County commissioners, executives, and council members provide funding and establish a budget for their operations and for all other county elected officials, including the court system, making them the nexus of county government.
State policy decisions relating to the elimination of the Medicaid MCO sales tax, cuts to the Local Government Fund (LGF), and the phase-out of the tangible personal property tax have eliminated $351 million in annual county revenue. Casino revenue has helped fill some of this gap, adding back about $100 million per year. At the same time, costs related to the opiate epidemic are causing budgets to explode.
Counties are looking forward to working with the DeWine/Husted Administration and the 133rd General Assembly to improve the state-county partnership.
Counties must have the state’s financial commitment to ensure that revenue streams are adequate to support the services they are mandated by the state to provide. The recent partnership for the purchase of election equipment is a meaningful step in the right direction, and additional actions are necessary to make Ohio stronger.
- The state should fully reimburse the counties for their costs incurred in fulfilling the state’s constitutional obligation to provide counsel to indigent defendants. The U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) held that the fundamental right to counsel is “made obligatory upon the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.” The state should accept the responsibility, stop requiring its counties to bear the costs of this state obligation, and fully reimburse the counties for their costs of providing indigent defense. The State Public Defender’s office estimates that it would take approximately $95 million per year in additional general revenue fund appropriations beyond current FY 2019 funding level.