July 5, 2017
To Governor John Kasich and the Members of the 132nd Ohio General Assembly:
The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) wish to express our sincere gratitude for all you have accomplished in creating the two-year budget for the State of Ohio. While there may be areas of disagreement, we appreciate the work that went into the document and want to single out a number of policies that House Bill 49 will enact into law.
GOPC, working with Senator Bob Peterson and Representative Rick Perales, developed an amendment that changes Chapter 725 of the Ohio Revised Code governing Urban Renewal Projects. In an urban renewal project, a municipality and a developer create a development agreement to mitigate a blighted area. After development begins, the property owner makes service payments in lieu of taxes, based on the increased valuation of the property. Service payments support bonds that have been issued to support redevelopment costs.
The amendment makes it absolutely clear that environmental remediation is an allowable cost whether the land is publicly or privately owned, and allows the semiannual service payment amount to exceed the foregone real estate taxes on the improvements, if the parties to the development agreement agree. This latter provision would better accommodate the cleanup of very highly contaminated sites. (The difference would be made up with charges passed through to tenants or from other project revenue.)
This permissive amendment will not cost the state any revenue. Rather, this amendment will serve as a revenue and jobs generator for the state, turning vacant, blighted land into profitable parcels of economic growth.
The budget creates the Lead-safe Residential Rental Unit Registry, maintained by the director of the Ohio Department of Health. This voluntary, online registry will provide an opportunity for families to more easily find lead-safe homes when looking for places to live. Owners can register qualified properties which have undergone documented lead-safe maintenance practices.
GOPC supports policies and practices that help to revitalize neighborhoods in Ohio’s cities so that they attract people and thrive economically. We were pleased that House Bill 49 will do much to help to reduce the risks of lead exposure to children.The budget provides $4.8 million in annual funding over the biennium for lead remediation and associated testing services for homes under lead hazard orders, ensuring that more properties are made safe for families, and their children.
We also thank the legislature for removing a shortsighted proposal which would have overrule municipal home rule authority concerning health and safety standards regarding lead abatement activities. This proposal would have undermined efforts to strengthen standards and ensure more properties are made lead-free. If in the future the state decides that it needs to strengthen state regulations, we would encourage the state to look at local ordinances as a model for statewide reform.
The final budget agreement removed an amendment that would have mandated stickers be affixed to retail service station pumps displaying the rates of federal and state taxes applicable to gasoline and diesel fuels. There was no affixed cost for the program, which would have had to be fully implemented in 14 months.
GOPC actively opposed the inclusion of this provision in the budget. At a time when the legislature was forced to cut nearly $1 billion in funding across the board, reducing spending and cutting funding to a number of important and crucial programs across the board, GOPC did not believe that it made sense to include a new mandate with no fixed cost associated with it and no clear, defined purpose. Both the Ohio Senate and the Conference Committee eliminated this provision and GOPC would like to single out Senators Matt Dolan and John Eklund, who responded to our requests and drafted amendments to have this provision removed.
Once again, we wish to thank you for all of the efforts you have put forth in the creation of the two year operating budget for the State of Ohio. These changes, outlined above, create a policy environment that fosters revitalization in Ohio to create economically competitive communities.