Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Says Issue One Could Cost Local Governments More Money

The state budget office says if voters approve Issue 1 in November, it will cost local communities more money for a variety of reasons. 

The issue intended to divert money from incarceration into treatment has drawn opposition from groups representing local governments. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles explains.
The state budget office is required to analyze the financial impact of statewide ballot issues. And it says the constitutional amendment on drug treatment and criminal sentencing known as Issue 1 would shift costs to local governments in two ways. The first is, because former felony offenders could no longer be put behind bars, local governments would have to come up with new sentencing options. Secondly, as thousands of people who were once charged with felony drug crimes get reclassified to misdemeanor offenses, the cases will shift from county common pleas courts to local municipal courts, adding costs to those smaller courts. 

One of the backers of Issue 1, Dennis Willard, thinks the projections, which come from the Kasich administration’s budget office, are wrong.


This is a flawed policy paper prepared for career politicians who continue to dig their heads deeper and deeper into the sand as the opioid epidemic claims, on average, 14 lives a day in Ohio. This state is second in the nation only to West Virginia for overdose deaths.”


Willard says other reports show $100 million could be diverted directly from state prisons and put into treatment in local communities. But Suzanne Delaney with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, a group that opposes Issue 1, says there are short and long term problems with it.


The first concern we have deals with the retroactive application provision in the amendment that requires courts to resentence or release individuals convicted of an offense of possessing or using drugs and there is no funding identified to pay for that provision. The longer term and more troubling concern is that it would create an unfunded mandate.”


Requirements from the state with no money attached also worry Kent Scarrett with the Ohio Municipal League, another organization that opposes Issue 1.


Cities have been challenged financially for a number of years with cuts to the local government fund, the elimination of the Ohio estate tax. Our revenues are down. State support has been down financially and now with the different issues included in Issue 1, there’s great concern that there will be some unfunded mandates in the application of the changes that are proposed in Issue 1.”


The 30 members of the Ohio Mayors’ Alliance haven’t taken a stance on the issue. The group’s director, Keary McCarthy, says mayors are divided on where they stand on it so the group won’t support or oppose it. But he says if it fails, the group would likely support a bipartisan legislative proposal like the one being brought forward by Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, a Democrat, and Republican Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.


The biggest, most attractive piece is you are bringing law enforcement and people who deal with prosecuting drug crimes to the table early. They are from both sides of the aisle. They are in one of the largest regions of the state. They understand the complexity of the challenge.”


But one challenge with that plan is it would require the legislature to put it in action. And while this issue of preferring treatment over incarceration has been debated for years, lawmakers have not come up with legislation to address it. And that is why backers of Issue 1 say they brought this proposed constitutional amendment to the ballot in the first place.





The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
Related Content