Cera Objects to Use of Oil, Gas Fund Out of Area

July 12, 2017

 Steubenville Herald Star. State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has objected to a Kasich administration plan to pay off a Grand Lake St. Mary’s landowners’ lawsuit against the state using severance tax revenue from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources oil and gas fund.

Cera said the Republican-controlled state Controlling Board, “slipped the maneuver into the state budget at the 11th hour with no debate or notice.”

“Lawmakers should be held accountable for resorting to one-time cash-grabs and shell games to prop up unstable budgets and poor job growth,” Cera said. “This sheds new light on the dangerous and dishonest financial tricks lawmakers will play to bolster political talking points. This funding should be used to put people back to work in Eastern Ohio at good-paying jobs that can sustain a family and let us plan for our future.”

According to Cera, “the cash-grab to pay off the almost decade-old lawsuit makes use of some $15 million in severance tax funds that are normally required to be used for related oil and gas drilling needs in impacted communities.”

“This multi-million-dollar cash grab by the state shows where Columbus politicians’ priorities are — not with hardworking taxpayers and property owners in Eastern Ohio,” Cera added.

“After almost 10 years to plan for a lawsuit settlement in the western part of Ohio, state officials failed to responsibly plan for the future and instead are robbing our area of what’s rightfully ours,” said Cera.

Cera tried to amend the budget to dedicate at least $10 million in severance tax money for infrastructure repairs and related services in Eastern Ohio communities. His efforts were defeated along party lines.

Cera, the lead Democrat on the House budget committee, has spoke about the need to return severance tax revenue to local communities in Eastern Ohio for job training, safety and infrastructure improvements and economic development.

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