September 23, 2014

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Lorain Council president headed to White House

LORAIN — City Council President Joel Arredondo will participate in a budget discussion Thursday at the White House.

“One of the most important issues we’ll see in the next four years is right in front of us: resolving the fiscal cliff and ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest,” Stephanie Valencia, White House Office of Public Engagement deputy director, said in an invitation emailed to Arredondo and other Ohio invitees. “We need your energy and leadership to help to engage the American people on this crucial set of issues.”

Joel Arredondo

Joel Arredondo

The invitation said Arredondo was one of several Ohio leaders selected for the meeting, which will include a White House tour. Participants must pay their own way for the trip.

Valencia didn’t return a call Monday, but Arredondo, a Democrat, said he believes he was selected because he campaigned for President Barack Obama and is Council president.

The “fiscal cliff” is a reference to the expiration of tax cuts and the introduction of across-the-board spending cuts beginning Jan. 1. The spending cuts include cutting military and social programs such as Head Start. Lorain County’s Head Start program is projected to lose $557,000 next year if the cuts go into effect, forcing it to cut 86 students and lay off 17 workers.

The invitation said the meeting will include a briefing from unspecified White House officials, who will discuss a “balanced approach.”

Arredondo said he agrees with Obama’s proposal to continue the tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 per year and couples making less than $250,000 per year, although he would support a compromise raising the levels to $300,000 or $400,000.

However, he opposes cutting federal taxpayer money for education and infrastructure. Arredondo said more is needed because of pending state cuts to local governments, which Republican Gov. John Kasich said are needed to eliminate projected deficits.

“The governor decided to balance state budgets with local money,” he said.

Under pressure from congressional Republicans, Obama agreed to extend the tax cuts in 2010 and last year, but Arredondo said Obama’s decisive re-election gives him leverage.

“You’re going to see a little more hardball from him,” Arredondo said. “The nation has spoken. We want these programs.”

Arredondo, who took office in 2008, said Lorain residents did their part passing a school levy and a local income tax increase last week.

“The city of Lorain is like a boxer. We keep getting knocked down, but we keep getting back up,” he said. “The Lord helps those who help themselves, and we’re going to help ourselves.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.