COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mayors from across Ohio pressured the candidates to become the next governor to do more to help cities. Republican and Democratic mayors from 30 cities said the amount of funding from state government going to local governments has been cut in half in the last decade without mayors getting a say. They said state lawmakers have balanced their budgets on the backs of Ohio cities.
The mayors said they weren't looking for a handout, but rather they wanted their fair share. They argued during a press conference Thursday cities contribute far more tax money than they get back. Cities haven't been able to add as many police officers, firefighters or teachers are they used to because of the funding cuts.
"The future of Ohio is very, very bleak if Ohio's cities aren't at the center of our agenda," said Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther.
The mayors have joined together to form a group called the Ohio Mayors Alliance. That group made a list of recommendations for state lawmakers. That list included creating a new fund to reinvest in Ohio cities, create an office to fight the opioid crisis and form a group to address infrastructure funding needs.
Some of the mayors said they're tired of state lawmakers cutting their funding or limiting what can do locally.
"That's kind of a bunch of foolishness," said Richard "Ike" Stage, mayor of Grove City. "We know how to run our city. We know how to police our cities."
Some have had to raise taxes to pay for city services.
"Cities have been forced to make up the difference," Ginther said. "Local levy agencies, schools, mental health and children's service levy agencies have all been forced back to the ballot sooner than they would have because of the cuts."
The Ohio Mayors Alliance sent their list of proposals to both Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine and Democratic candidate Rich Cordray. Cordray met with the governors in person Thursday. The alliance was scheduling a time to meet with DeWine in person as well.