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Ohio budget contains tax breaks for East Palestine, rail safety measurers

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(The Center Square) – Ohio’s newly signed budget contains state tax breaks for members of the East Palestine community impacted by the Feb. 3 train derailment that led to the release of toxic chemicals into the air, ground and water.

The budget also contains state rail safety measures in response to the Norfolk Southern rail crash.

“The people of East Palestine have remained strong and steadfast as their lives have been so heavily impacted over the last few months by the derailment,” said Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel, R-Columbia County. “I hope this relief and increased rail safety shows that I am sincerely committed to finding solutions for them.”

The state tax deductions could cover things like lost business for impacted local businesses.

The safety measures include expanding the Ohio Wayside Detector Expansion Program by establishing a $10 million grant for projects that include installation, equipment, power sources and employee training.

Also, the budget includes $100 million for the Rail Safety Crossing Match program to fund safety at railroad crossings.

The tax breaks and funding come days after Gov. Mike DeWine asked President Joe Biden for a federal disaster declaration for East Palestine.

DeWine said the community needs the declaration if Norfolk Southern fails to follow through on promises to make East Palestine whole again.

According to DeWine, FEMA officials have told the state that federal help would only be possible with the declaration if Norfolk Southern stops its support. Thus far, the company has reimbursed citizens and state and local governments for costs associated with the damage.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the derailment on an overheated wheel bearing. There were no injuries from the crash.

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