OLC Testifies Before Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee

Senate subcommittee 2

OLC was invited to testify this afternoon before the Ohio Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. Michelle Francis (left) and Kim Fender (right) asked lawmakers not to make additional cuts to public library funding.

The Ohio Library Council presented testimony today on public library funding before the Ohio Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. Kim Fender, Director, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and Chair of the OLC Government Relations Committee, and Michelle Francis, OLC Director of Government and Legal Services, testified on behalf of the OLC and Ohio’s public libraries.

They explained the impact of declining state revenues on the Public Library Fund (PLF) and how certain provisions in the state budget bill (HB 49) could result in additional cuts in funding to Ohio’s public libraries.

“When libraries switched to the Public Library Fund (PLF) in 1985, we understood that, as a percent of state revenue, our funding would ebb and flow with state revenue. But, when you reduce the percent of the PLF at a time when revenue is also declining, or remove a tax from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) and replace it with a fee outside of the GRF, libraries take a double or even triple cut,” Fender said.

Francis explained that Ohio’s public libraries currently receive $119 million less in state funding that what they received in 2001 and could see additional cuts in funding under the current budget proposal (HB 49).

“We understand that the Ohio Senate has difficult decisions to make over the next several weeks 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,” Francis said.

Francis explained that Ohio’s public libraries are looking for revenue stability right now in an effort to maintain current levels and to prevent reductions in services to Ohioans.

“We are urging the Ohio Senate to NOT make additional cuts in state funding to Ohio’s public libraries in HB 49. The Ohio Library Council and Ohio’s public libraries are simply asking senators to maintain the current level of funding at 1.7% of the GRF,” Francis said.

Read full testimony (PDF)