Columbus, OH — Following weeks of delay and behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives today passed a conference budget (House Bill 166) that will fund state operations over FY2020 and 2021. The budget bill provides funding that will help improve our water quality and increase our access to public lands. However, the adoption of the two-for-one provision intended to reduce regulations (Senate Bill 1) will harm Ohioans.
In response, the following quote can be attributed in full or part to Trish Demeter, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund advocate:
“Today’s vote on the budget provides good and bad news for Ohioans. The initial funding allocated for Gov. DeWine’s H2Ohio water quality initiative is a welcome and needed investment in ensuring the health of Ohio waterways. We hope to see long-term, dedicated funding for water quality—to fulfill the H2Ohio program as proposed earlier this year. However, the bill lacks strong accountability measures to ensure a good investment of public dollars that will achieve water quality improvements, especially as Ohioans deal with harmful algae threats across the state. We look forward to working with the administration and the Ohio General Assembly to get these measures put into place.
“We are pleased to see much-needed funding for our state nature preserves as well as $47 million for the purchase of the AEP ReCreation Land. These are strong conservation investments in the vitality of and accessibility to high-quality public green space for all Ohioans. We applaud Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for championing these important measures. We had hoped to see the one-time increase in State Park Fund line item of $25 million, and would like to see this reconsidered in the future so the state can update and improve our park system. But, the $5 million dollar bump approved in the final version of the budget is a good start.
“However, the Senate’s addition of SB 1 threatens the ability of the state to protect the health and safety of all Ohioans. Under the guise of addressing perceived ills of over-regulation, the provision prohibits the development of new regulations without removing two current regulations. This could eliminate a whole host of important rules that protect critical resources such as safe drinking water, limitations on harmful air pollution, or regulations governing hazardous waste disposal. This provision is irresponsible, poses unnecessary threats to the health of our communities, and could hamstring the state’s efforts to address emerging environmental threats.”