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Ohio Issue 1 would force taxpayers to foot the bill for fracking development

"Don't Frack My Water" billboard in Columbus, Ohio.
"Don't Frack My Water" billboard in Columbus, Ohio.

A Columbus Dispatch editorial supports Ohio Issue 1 on the May 6 primary ballot, saying that it would drive economic growth in Ohio. Created by a 1987 state constitutional amendment, "the State Capital Improvements Program has been an invaluable assist to strapped local governments. It provides up to 50 percent funding for new construction projects and up to 90 percent for repair-and-replacement projects."

In a letter to the Athens News, Heather Cantino of the Athens County Fracking Action Network points out a detail that the Dispatch doesn't mention: Issue 1 "would force taxpayers to pick up the tab for private industrial development and infrastructure costs that should be borne by fracking companies and frack waste haulers."

Attorney Terry Lodge describes the State Capital Improvements Program as the Governor John Kasich's "slush fund to subsidize new corporate projects. Bear in mind that Kasich has dissolved the Department of Development and privatized its functions, which nowadays involve packaging sweetheart deals for existing and new corporations. Privatization allows our corporatized government to largely avoid accountability — to not have to provide records of where the gravy's going even though we pay the bill over the next 30 years."

The Dispatch claims that Issue 1 would authorize the state to "continue selling bonds to fund much-needed improvement projects all over the state, without costing taxpayers another dime."

Government bonds are debts taken on by the State of Ohio. And who is ultimately responsible for paying back those debts, and the interest? Ohio taxpayers.

The State Capital Improvements Program currently authorizes Ohio to take out $150 million in debt each year to fund development by private companies. Issue 1 would increase that to $175 million per year for the next five years, and $200 million the five years after that.