Green Buckeye RN


Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s Administration To Raid Black Lung Fund, Use Money For Oversight Of Coal Mines
May 12, 2010, 9:55 am
Filed under: News

By Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer
May 11, 2010, 9:04PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration wants $2.28 million from a health-care fund for coal miners stricken with black lung disease to pay for regulatory programs to oversee new coal mines.

The raid on the $191 million state black lung fund must happen by July because Ohio’s powerful coal companies got lawmakers to remove an 8-cents-per-ton coal extraction tax in the last state budget.

The new provision — which the Ohio Coal Association brought to Strickland administration officials — will be slipped into an unrelated coal bill expected to be voted out of the House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this morning. The language will tweak current law, which requires the money be spent on health care or on the state’s mine safety program, to allow officials to shift the $2.28 million into the state’s coal regulatory program.

Strickland had included the 8 cents per ton fee in his budget proposal in 2009, but it was removed by majority-party Senate Republicans punching a $1.8 million hole in the state’s coal mine regulation and inspection program. Another $480,000 in grants could be nixed out of the next federal budget thus enlarging the budgetary hole in fiscal year 2011.

“We would prefer our fee proposal that would put us on a dedicated funding stream, but given the short legislative timeframe, we are fine with a one-time maneuver to cover the next fiscal year,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources communications chief Mike Shelton.

Read further at http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2010/05/strickland_administration_to_r.html

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