The governor’s office and the state Department of Development insist they are committed finding an adequate funding stream for the aspect of Clean Ohio involving the recovery of brownfields. The clean-up of contaminated and abandoned industrial sites is a crucial element of economic development in cities.
The Clean Ohio program, approved by voters in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2008, provides grants to local governments for assessing these sites and for preparing them for redevelopment. It has been a success story. With the creation of JobsOhio, John Kasich diverted money away from brownfield restoration to cover the cost of the privatized spinoff of the Development Department.
Of late, the state has stopped accepting applications for brownfield assessments. A final round of grants soon will be approved for restoration. Then, the program will be out of money.
The time for reassuring words will end, and the moment for addressing the shortfall will arrive. Otherwise, the state’s larger cities hardly can be blamed for thinking: Here comes another shot to the chin from the Statehouse.
These cities and their regions rate as essential engines for economic development. The governor appears to understand well their role. Yet too many in the legislature have been eager to diminish the capacity of municipalities to act, whether in erasing residency rules or disarming regulation of predatory lending. The governor joined the cause by abandoning the long-established bargain of the Local Government Fund, lawmakers then setting the estate tax on a course for expiration.
Neglect the proven brownfield portion of Clean Ohio? It would amount to another blow to cities. Will the governor prove true to his word and keep faith with Ohio voters?