There is quite a bit of disappointment around here that drastic cuts to the Ohio Consumers Counsel have survived the supposedly “new and improved” budget bill offered by the House GOP. Governor Kasich wants to cut their funding in half (by $4.5 million) and Ohio House Republicans are refusing to stop the Governor from running his bus over Ohio consumers.
By way of background, the Consumers’ Counsel is a watchdog whose job is to protect the interests of Ohio utility rate payers. Time after time, they have convinced the Public Utilities Commission to lower rate hikes requested by the utility companies.
The money Republicans want to cut from this group protecting you from higher rates doesn’t even come from taxpayers. It comes from an assessment on utility companies. So what the GOP is proposing will do nothing help balance the state budget.
One of those most upset about this injustice is State Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria), the former chairman of the Ohio House Consumer Affairs and Economic Protection Committee (which, by the way, the new GOP majority eliminated).
In Rep. Lundy’s own words:
“This is a public mugging of consumers. The governor and the Republican majority are sending a clear message that consumers don’t count, but campaign contributors do. There is no other way to explain why they would totally abandon the consumers they are elected to represent. Over its lifetime, OCC has saved utility consumers $10 billion dollars. Now the governor and Republican majority want to muzzle OCC from being a voice for consumers. When I look around I don’t see a competitive utilities market, but I do see plenty of monopolies throughout the state. I am going to keep fighting to restore these cuts. ”