YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over

Urging support of libraries facing budget cuts

To the editor:

When Gov. John Kasich rolled out his new two-year state budget last month, he talked about leveraging the strength of Ohio’s public libraries, turning them into “continuous learning centers.”

Kasich’s budget also cuts the state public library fund by nearly $7 million next year.

Ohio’s public library system has long been one of the state’s bright spots. The state spends more than most on its libraries, and a study last year by the Ohio Library Council found that Ohioans average 7.5 library visits per year, the highest per-capita rate in the country and 51 percent above the national average.

As part of his efforts to improve the quality of Ohio’s workforce, Kasich wants to get more use out of online job training and education. He’s sees libraries as a key piece of that plan.

The governor acknowledged that not everyone has internet services and that those at the bottom of the income ladder may not have a lot of the technology that they need.

The governor is sending a mixed message, as while being supportive of the state library system and acknowledging it attributes even proposing rebranding the governor appears to be supportive yet his proposed budget cuts tell a tale of his word and deed being at opposition.

If Ohio’s 251 libraries and branches are going to grow in purpose, they would do it without extra money under Kasich’s budget.

The state public library fund would decrease from $389.5 million this year to $381.8 million next year, before going back up to $393.5 million in 2019.

GOP lawmakers two years ago temporarily increased library funding to 1.7 percent of the state general revenue fund. Kasich is returning it to the prior 1.66 percent level.

Under the proposal, which is still subject to legislative changes, library funding in 2019 would be $57 million less than what libraries got in 2008.

“The Ohio Library Council is concerned about Gov. Kasich’s proposed funding cuts to public libraries and the mixed message it seems to be sending,” said Michelle Francis, the council’s director of government and legal services. “A significant contributor to our success is the state funding we receive through the public library fund.”

The council, Francis said, will urge lawmakers to not cut library funding.

The rebranding effort as continuous learning centers in its current proposal does not require a significant influx of resources but would almost certainly be derailed if proposed budget cuts become law.

We are fortunate locally to have excellent library systems. I personally am most familiar with the facilities and services available at the Salem and Leetonia public libraries.

If you value your local library as much as I do please contact your state representative and state senator and ask them to support your local library by rejecting the current proposed budget cuts.

FRANK ZANGARA,

Salem

Repealing Obamacare will impact millions of Americans

To the editor:

I would like to bring to your readers’ attention some facts on Medicare that will benefit both your wallet and health care. My source of information is The Motely Fool, a reliable financial publication.

1. $684 billion is what the Medicare benefit total was in 2016. Projected to rise to $709 billion in 2017.

2. There are more than 57 million enrollees in Medicare, as of October 2016. That’s 18 percent or one in five of our population.

3. The Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare has strengthened Medicare in many ways. The ACA was designed to contain healthcare costs that were rising at rapid rates. Medicare spending grew at an annual average of 9 percent between 2000 and 2010. It slowed to an annual average of 4.4 percent between 2010 and 2015.

4. If the ACA is repealed, our government will lose an estimated $800 billion in tax revenue. A big tax break for businesses.

5. If Obamacare is repealed 23 million people will lose their health insurance coverage. That will lead to some tough choices for many: Risk financial disaster to pay for healthcare, or go without and risk a shorter life. That should not happen in America.

What can you do about it? Contact your representatives in Washington or attend a town hall meeting and let them know how you feel.

BOB SHILLING,

Salem

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