OLC Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee on HB 166

Ruby Bushong (right) and her mom, Nickel express their support of public libraries in front of the Senate Finance Committee at the Ohio Statehouse.

OLC presented testimony in the Senate Finance Committee today on HB 166, the state budget bill. Eight-year-old Ruby Bushong and her mom, Nickel explained to the committee how they have personally benefited from the products and services at the Perry County District Library. Ruby and her sister Vivian both graduated from the library’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program.

 

“Looking back at all of the books, DVDs, magazines, digital resources, playaways, and special programming, as well as all of the other resources I’ve mentioned, I would estimate that we’ve used close to $10,000 of library resources in the last year. These are resources that I could never afford to purchase for my family and these are resources that we share with our community,” Mrs. Bushong said.

 

Babette Wofter, Director, Licking County Library (left) stands with Pam Hickson-Stevenson, Director, Akron-Summit County Public Library after testifying before the Senate Finance Committee at the Ohio Statehouse.

Michelle Francis, OLC’s Director of Government and Legal Services, was joined by Pam Hickson-Stevenson, Director, Akron-Summit County Public Library, who talked about how public libraries are responding to the opioid epidemic with efforts to distribute drug deactivation pouches and serving as places for people to dispose of unneeded medication, with an emphasis on unused opiates. Babette Wofter, Director, Licking County Library, talked more about how libraries are offering WiFi hotspots, resources for small businesses, and innovative literacy programs for children. In addition, Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO, Cleveland Public Library provided written testimony which focused on early childhood literacy and academic support as well as workforce development, including digital literacy. The Senate Finance Committee was able to hear first-hand how public libraries are having an impact on communities across the state. A video of today’s testimony is available on the Ohio Channel.

 

Read a transcript of today’s testimony (PDF)

 

PLF Amendment
Things are moving quickly in the Ohio Senate. Several Senators have reached out to the OLC and are planning to submit an amendment to restore the PLF to 1.7% in the Senate’s version of the state budget bill, HB 166. So far, Senators Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), John Eklund (R-Munson Township), Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), and Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) have confirmed they are submitting it in their requests. We still need other Senators to submit the amendment and support it this week!

 

CALL TO ACTION: Contact your Ohio Senator(s) and urge them to:

 

  • make public libraries a priority in the Senate version of the state budget;
  • support Amendment SC3424 to restore the Public Library Fund to 1.7% of the GRF;
  • hold public libraries harmless from any additional unintended reductions in state funding resulting from the tax reform proposals.

 

The OLC has put together new talking points and white paper for you to use when contacting your senators:

 

More information is available at libraryfunding.olc.org.