Gongwers is a daily news service covering state house activity in Columbus. Recently, they reported:
"A $3.4 million cash transfusion for the Division of Emergency Medical Services cleared the Controlling Board without objection Monday, a Band-Aid approach to a fiscal problem created because more drivers are using their seat belts.
The Controlling Board approved a request from the Department of Public Safety to transfer $2.9 million from an emergency medical service grants program and $442,553 from an elementary school seat belt program into the Division of Emergency Medical Services. The division trains and certifies the state's emergency first responders, and is the administrative arm of the state board responsible for disaster response planning and trauma system management.
Kathryn Ludowese, department chief fiscal officer, said fines imposed against violators of the seat belt law are the sole source of revenue for the EMS Division. Since safety restraint usage has reached an all-time high, there is less money available to fund division operations.
Seat belt revenue amounted to just over $2 million in fiscal year 2003. For fiscal year 2005, the amount generated fell to $1.1 million. The General Assembly was made aware of the funding problem during work on the current state budget, and the measure authorized the Controlling Board to approve a transfer of cash between funds.
Ms. Ludowese said the transfer would not affect grants to local EMS units. Without the transfer, the division would have to reduce its 27-member staff, causing, the department said, an "unacceptable decline in service." Sen. Finance Chairman John Carey (R-Wellston) asked about progress toward identifying an alternative funding source in the next budget cycle. Ms. Ludowese could offer no information about a specific proposal. "I certainly understand your curiosity about that," she said.
While the work of this department is very important, it just goes to show that when the funding from this "crime" runs out, a new law will have to be passed to make some other activity illegal, thus producing a new source of revenue for government.