COLUMBUS – The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) commends and sincerely thanks Gov. Mike DeWine for his decision to address CCAO’s key priority by having the state provide significant new funding for reimbursement to the counties for indigent defense costs. DeWine allocated an additional $60 million per year for indigent defense reimbursement in his biennium budget introduced into the General Assembly today.
Helping counties with this financial burden has been a main CCAO legislative priority, as counties have been bearing the significant share of the costs of providing services to criminal defendants who cannot afford legal counsel. The governor’s proposed new investment for indigent defense costs gives counties additional flexibility in allocating scarce general fund revenue to support other county cost centers that are funded out of the county general fund.
“The CCAO board is extremely grateful to Gov. DeWine and his administration for their decision to provide this significant increase for indigent defense reimbursement. He has not only listened to our needs, but he has exhibited a commitment to work with counties for the betterment of Ohio,” CCAO President Julie Ehemann said. “This action is a considerable and important step in forging a stronger state-county partnership.”
This funding, coupled with a $74 million annual increase in the state’s investment in protecting abused and neglected children in the care of county children services agencies plus millions aimed either directly or indirectly at alleviating pressures on the county general fund attributable to the drug epidemic is a giant leap forward in the state’s relationship with its county partners. Taking together we the county commissioners have not seen this level of commitment in many years.
CCAO leadership has met with DeWine and his team several times to discuss an improved relationship between the state and counties, as state polices enacted over the last decade have forced counties in the difficult position of balancing revenue loss with escalating costs.
“With his announcement, Gov. DeWine is ushering in a new era in the state-county partnership, and we look forward to continued dialogue with us regarding the concerns of county government,” CCAO Executive Director Suzanne Dulaney said. “The state and counties working toward mutual goals is critical to the quality of life and prosperity of Ohio and its citizens. With stronger counties, we build a stronger Ohio.”
Additional CCAO priorities can be found the recently released CCAO 2019-2020 Legislative Platform.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.