When Gov. John Kasich rolled out his new two-year state budget last week, 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.
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.
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