CINCINNATI -- Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld launched a two-day, six-city statewide tour Thursday, gathering local leaders from every corner of Ohio to rally against Gov. John Kasich's 2011 budget cuts.
His tour, "Stop the Kasich Raid," aims to address the impact of Kasich's significant budget cuts to local government funding that reportedly hurt firefighters and police under the last state budget.
The legislature approved a 50 percent cut to the long-standing Local Government Fund (LGF) in 2011. At any time, the legislature can reverse the approval and restore funds to local municipalities. They have yet to do so, but Sittenfeld said he hopes this tour will change that.
On Thursday at the browned-out Firehouse 19 on Short Vine in Cincinnati, Sittenfeld was joined by Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes, Cincinnati Fire Local 48 President Matt Alter and President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Kathy Harrell.
This was the second stop of the tour, following a meeting in Dayton Thursday morning with Mayor Nan Whaley.
Sittenfeld's overall message was Cincinnati has lost money that it needs to serve the community -- and an issue like this hits home for him.
"I can speak to this personally," Sittenfeld said. "Nearly a decade ago, the Cincinnati Fire Dept. saved my father's life. I can say with certainty that if a station nearby had been on a brown-out that day, my dad might not be here." Public safety presidents stood behind Sittenfeld at the browned-out fire station.
The municipalities and townships throughout Greater Cincinnati have lost hundreds of thousands in funds over the last three years causing loss of employees and availability for new equipment. Dusty Rhodes has kept track of the money lost from the budget cuts, which can be viewed here . Across the board, there's a negative percentage change.
"If this was happening at the federal level, we wouldn't have it," Matt Alter said.
Alter is the president of IAFF48 and has noted how the pull from the LGF has affected the union in the last three years.
Joining Sittenfeld on Friday are various City Council members and public safety leaders within the remaining cities. Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown and Akron are left for Friday's schedule. The remainder of the tour is scheduled as follows:
- Friday 5/23 - 9 a.m. in Toledo with Council member Lindsay Webb.
- Friday 5/23 - 12 p.m. in Cleveland at City Hall with Council President Kevin Kelley
- Friday 5/23 - 2 p.m. in Youngstow with County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti
- Friday 5/23 - 3:30 p.m. in Akron with County Council President Ilene Shapiro
“The Kasich tax raid has hurt real people – in every township, city and county in Ohio. Lives have been put at risk and people have been put out of work, leaving local communities to pick up the pieces,” Sittenfeld said.