3/16/11 Gov. Kasich Proposes a 5% Decrease in the State's Public Library Funding (Updated 3/17)
With the release of his 2012-13 state budget on Tues., March 15, Gov. John Kasich proposed a 5% reduction in the funding of Ohio's public libraries. The Ohio Library Council is continuing to analyze all of the information and figures in the 774-page budget document to determine how the state's response to its fiscal challenges could impact public libraries. Also, the language in the actual budget legislation may provide a better understanding of the details in this budget and how it might impact public libraries.
State Budget PDFs
Although somewhat relieved that the Governor's proposal does not call for deeper cuts in library funding, the OLC believes that any reductions in the PLF will have an impact on public libraries – especially the 38% of the state's 251 public libraries that currently rely solely on the PLF to fund their operations.
Over the last decade, state funding of public libraries has dropped by 30% - and almost 24% in just the past two years alone. Libraries have reduced hours, staff, materials, technology, and a variety of other services to meet these budget cuts. The proposed decrease to the PLF comes at a time when Ohio's public library systems are seeing unprecedented demands for services. More Ohioans than ever are turning to their public libraries for assistance with finding jobs, homework help, early literacy training, Internet access, computer training, and much more.
The Governor's proposed budget cut to libraries, although not as significant as some of the previous PLF cuts, will reduce public library funding to approximately the funding levels in 1996.
PLF Distributions (calendar year/in millions):
- CY 08: $450.5
- CY 09: $370.3
- CY 10: $347.9
- CY 11: $350
(projected using Gov. Kasich's budget proposal figures)
- CY 12: $340.7
The actual budget legislation will not be available until later in the week of March 21. Following a thorough review of that document, the OLC will know more about how proposed changes to the Tangible Personal Property Tax, OPERS, and other issues could also impact public libraries.
In Gov. Kasich's proposal, the OPLIN budget is reduced by $12,749 (0.2%) as a result of personnel cost reductions that were applied to all agencies. OPLIN continues to be funded through the Public Library Fund; however, there does not appear to be a $5 million transfer from the General Revenue Fund to the PLF to cover the cost of OPLIN and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
At this flat funding level, OPLIN should be able to continue handling the 30% annual increases in library bandwidth usage. Over the past few years, OPLIN has been able to meet the increased bandwidth demand, despite flat funding, through careful negotiations with its telecommunications providers, and this budget should allow OPLIN to continue upgrading the network to meet libraries' needs. Had OPLIN been funded from the GRF instead of the PLF, however, it is almost certain that it would be facing this challenge with a significantly reduced budget rather than flat funding.
State Library of Ohio
General Revenue Fund funding for the State Library of Ohio is reduced by almost 7% in the Executive Budget released by Gov. Kasich on Tuesday. This is in line with what the State Library expected based on guidance received from the Office of Budget and Management. While this funding level does not provide for growth in programs and services, it should allow the State Library to maintain its current level of services to State Government, libraries of all types, and Ohio residents. This funding level allows the State Library to meet the match and maintenance of effort required in order to obtain federal funding to support library programs throughout the state. This latest reduction comes on top of a series of ongoing reductions that have resulted in a 34% overall budget reduction in GRF operations and a 46% reduction in State Library staffing in 10 fiscal years.