Members ask Attorney General to request that funding be restored
COLUMBUS - State Representatives Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton) today sent a letter to the state Attorney General asking him to join their call to restore funding to the Ohio Consumers' Counsel. Reps. Slesnick and Driehaus are both members of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee hearing the OCC budget.
"I think it's important to understand that the money saved through this budget cut goes back to the utility companies, not to fix the budget deficit," said Rep. Driehaus. "We need to continue investing where it counts and where it's going to help the most. There is not one single person in this state that doesn't benefit from the Ohio Consumers' Counsel advocating on their behalf. The OCC protects all utility consumers and makes sure that the state is advocating for its citizens."
"Given the current economic climate, Ohio residents need a watchdog like the Ohio Consumers' Council advocating on their behalf now, more than ever," said Rep. Slesnick. "For the agency to effectively represent and save money for utility customers, the OCC budget must be restored. With this letter, we look forward to working with Attorney General DeWine towards achieving our mutual goal of protecting Ohio taxpayers."
The text of the letter from Reps. Driehaus and Slesnick to Attorney General Mike DeWine is below.
April 4, 2011
Attorney General Mike DeWine
30 E Broad Street, 17th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Attorney General DeWine,
We are writing today on an issue we feel will have a large impact on the protection of Ohio's consumers, the significant reduction in the Ohio Consumers' Council budget.
As you are probably aware, the Governor has proposed to cut the funding of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) by 52.25% over Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013. The OCC serves as the attorney for residential and small business utility customers, and you yourself appoint the bipartisan board that oversees it.
It is concerning to us, and we hope to you, that Ohio's consumer watchdog, which is in fact an arm of your office, is poised to undergo a devastating budget reduction. This decision will force the OCC to reduce staff to the point of not being able to adequately advocate for and represent consumers.
In this past biennium alone, the OCC has saved consumers over $54 million. It seems to us that those savings show that the OCC is a sound investment for the citizens of Ohio.
It is also important to note that the savings from the reduction in the OCC's budget will not impact Ohio's overall budget deficit. Rather, this money will go back into the pockets of the utility companies from which the OCC protects Ohio consumers.
We hope that you will join us in asking the Governor to fully restore the OCC's funding. We look forward to your response and to working with you on this important issue.
31st House District
52nd House District