As we work together to rebuild our state, I wanted to share how the legislature is working with local communities to help our economies recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our communities have been on the frontlines of the pandemic and this has drained them of critical resources and funding. It was important for the legislature to work quickly to authorize the distribution of $350 million of federal CARES Act funding to municipalities and local governments across Ohio for their COVID-19 pandemic-related expenses. This will provide them with much needed relief as they continue to keep us safe.
As every family knows, our students and schools also experienced great upheaval caused by the pandemic, and I co-sponsored legislation to provide flexibility to K-12 schools across the district so that our educators can continue providing excellence in education in a changing learning environment. The legislature also worked to protect our schools by capping the Governor’s proposed funding cuts for the next school year.
We also worked to secure the reauthorization of $1.28 billion in funding to continue ongoing public infrastructure improvement projects. We are not spending any new dollars with this action, but it allows existing improvement projects for our communities, local schools, colleges and universities to continue. And equally important to our economy, are the jobs that these projects will create for Ohioans.
This summer should be the height of the tourism industry for our region, and during the past few months, I have worked closely with many of our wonderful attractions on their reopening concerns. And it’s no secret that Erie County is a beloved destination for tourists across the state and the nation. Thrill seekers and their families travel to Sandusky for all that Cedar Point and Kalahari Resort offer in the summer months, and these travelers also contribute to local hotels, restaurants, and other attractions in the county and region. Tourism is truly the anchor of the Erie County economy.
The impacts of the continued closures of Cedar Point and Kalahari to Erie County and its residents are extensive—many people are out of work, local businesses are struggling, and tax revenue projections have been drastically hit. Working with local officials, leaders from Cedar Fair and Kalahari, and the Governor’s office, we were able to assure that these two destinations could reopen with proper safety protocols in place. Kalahari already has, and Cedar Point looks forward to a July 9 opening date.
This decision has encouraged a new sense of hope in Erie County. People can return to work in these businesses; tourists will be back to revitalize other area industries; and the City of Sandusky and Erie County will not take such an extensive blow to their budgets.
I will continue to work on your behalf and I am committed to doing my very best to help Ohio’s businesses and communities recover, revive Ohio’s economy, and continue to ensure the health and safety of all Ohioans.