The lead Democrat on the House budget panel State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and Assistant Democratic Whip Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), also a budget committee member, issued the following statements in response to Ohio GOP leaders call for close to $1 billion in state budget cuts due to stagnant economic growth and opportunity in The Buckeye State after six years of unchecked Republican tax shifting and deep budget cuts:
“After six years of Ohio GOP policies that continue to shift taxes to working people and local communities to fund giveaways for the wealthiest one-percent, Ohio is now faced with a serious budget crisis, one that will force us all to pay the price for the failed economic policies of the past. We were promised that deep cuts to communities, deep cuts to schools, privatizing job creation and shifting taxes to give millionaires breaks would grow our economy and create jobs, but today’s announcement is proof Governor Kasich and other leaders have broken that promise.”
–State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire)
“Now – after having it their way without compromise for six years has brought us to the ‘verge of recession’ – schools, communities, the opioid fight, healthcare for developmentally disabled people and children, and other essential services will be defunded because politicians in Columbus don’t have the courage to do what’s needed to recession-proof our state. Instead of shoring up self-made shortfalls with Rainy Day money that was essentially stolen from schools and communities, Ohio will likely continue on it’s terrible economic trajectory with fewer resources to fend off this deteriorating economy.” –State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)
As the Ohio House of Representatives enters the next stage in state budget deliberations, House Democratic leaders today warned that GOP economic policies are blowing a hole in the Ohio budget and threatening the economic stability of working people and families.
“Six years of Republican tax shifting and cuts brought us to the ‘verge of a recession,’ and now are threatening to take us over Ohio’s fiscal cliff,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the Democratic leader on the House Finance Committee. “Working families in Ohio are already feeling the pinch of GOP property tax and sales tax increases. We cannot let partisan ideology destabilize our budget and the future economic growth of our state.”
Tuesday’s news conference comes on the heels of troubling news reports that revealed Ohio is facing a half-a-billion dollar budget hole after state revenue estimates missed the mark yet again in the month of March. The Democratic Caucus says that shortfall is even bigger, likely closer to one-billion dollars after looking to past July 2016 Kasich Administration revenue revisions of some negative $280 million.
The lawmakers today said the news, coupled with records showing that 2016 was the worst year on record for job creation and job growth since the Great Recession in 2009, raise serious, legitimate questions regarding the impact of Republicans’ continued commitment to trickle down, tax shifting economic policies. Even with limited job growth many new jobs pay poverty wages, adding to the Buckeye State’s grim job market outlook where close to one-third of all jobs pay below poverty wages.
“During the worst global economic recession since The Great Depression, Republican lawmakers called for the state budget director – at the time, a Democrat – to step down,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “In the governor’s own words, Ohio is now on ‘the verge of a recession’. However, we are not demanding pink slips be delivered today. Instead, we believe that state leaders must take steps to recession-proof the state by investing in communities and schools, rather than approving yet another round in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
House Republican lawmakers are expected to unveil an updated version of the state budget in the coming weeks.
State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of the Ohio Equal Pay Act, a bill that would help close the longstanding gender pay gap between men and women in the Buckeye State.
“Too often, women with the same jobs as men and with the same education as men are paid less than men, see fewer opportunities for career advancement and are more likely to struggle to meet the basic needs of their families,” said Rep. Clyde. “The Ohio Equal Pay Act works to address the systemic undervaluing of women in the workplace and aims to ensure women are treated as what they are— equal.”
In Ohio, the average working woman is paid only 75 percent of what her male counterpart gets paid, regardless of educational background and job description. For women of color, the discrepancy is worse. African American women are paid only 63 cents and Latina women are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
“The Ohio Equal Pay Act is important because women across Ohio are giving their all, both in the workplace and in the home, and are being paid less than they’re worth,” said Rep. Howse. “More women than ever before are the primary breadwinner for their families. Without equal pay, these families are living with a financial deficit they will never make up. Equal pay isn’t just right for women, it’s right for families and our economy as a whole.”
The Ohio Equal Pay Act will require businesses who contract with the state of Ohio to obtain an Equal Pay Certificate, which would certify that the employer offers the same opportunities to its employees, regardless of gender. The bill will also prohibit gag orders on employees that keep them from discussing their salaries with each other. Finally, the Ohio Equal Pay Act will require government entities to evaluate their pay scales to ensure compensation is similar across job categories for positions requiring similar skills, responsibilities and working conditions.
“Women in Ohio deserve to know what they’re making in relation to their peers. That’s why the Ohio Equal Pay Act is so important,” said Erin Ryan, policy analyst at Innovation Ohio and manager of the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network. “Knowing that your contributions are valued and compensated based on your skills and responsibilities rather than your gender should be a given in the workplace.”
Earlier this week, the United States observed Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date that represents how far into the new year the average woman needs to work to make what her male counterpart did the year before. It took until April 4, 2017, 94 extra days, for women to earn what men earned in 2016. Equal Pay Days for black and Latina women won’t occur until much later this year.
“Our research at The Women’s Fund definitively shows that women suffer economic insecurity because of unequal pay,” said Nichole E. Dunn, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. “This bill will provide opportunities for Ohio women to be on equal footing by breaking down antiquated barriers to equal pay. I applaud the creative work of these women leaders in the statehouse. When women lead, we all do better.”
After introduction, the bill will be referred to a House committee, where it will await its first hearing.
House Democratic lawmakers today called on Gov. Kasich to address the real state of the state in his annual remarks tomorrow night in Sandusky, arguing that the governor owes 11 million Ohioans an explanation on why the state is on “the verge of a recession” after six years under his leadership. The lawmakers also noted that the governor’s budget failed to adequately address the real state of the economy, education, healthcare and recent drastic state cuts to communities in Ohio.
“The last time the governor addressed the legislature he warned that Ohio was “on the verge of a recession’, but weeks later introduced a budget that doubles down on the tax-shifting policies that have harmed so many working families and brought us to this point,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Ohioans deserve to hear honest remarks from the governor on his plan to address the economic and other challenges facing our state, because so far his plan just seems to be more of the same.”
Under Gov. Kasich, Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, and 2016 was the slowest year of Ohio job growth on record since the Great Recession in 2009.
In fact, the last time Ohio led the nation in job creation in 2010 was under a Democratic governor and a Democratic House of Representatives.
For many struggling families, the jobs that are available do not provide enough to help make ends meet. The average household in Ohio is bringing home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, ranking 32nd for income nationally. Roughly one in seven Ohioans are living below the poverty level, a rate slightly higher than the national average for poverty.
“Republicans promised the economy would grow and good jobs would be created with trickle-down tax shifting policies, but these policies of the past have held Ohio back from growth and opportunity,” said Rep. Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma). “Instead of a highly-marketed self-promotion campaign tomorrow night, Ohioans want to hear the governor’s plan about how he will put them back to work and drive economic growth.”
Since taking office, Gov. Kasich has cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding, money that cities and towns use to pay for police and fire, keep the roads paved and the water clean, and provide a quality public education to our children. 33 Ohio cities are on the state’s fiscal distress list because of inadequate finances needed to provide basic services and meet fiscal obligations.
“Communities across the state are struggling to pay for the police and fire that keep us safe, to keep teachers in the classroom and to keep roads and bridges from crumbling – all due to drastic cuts made by the governor and his legislative partners to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest Ohioans,” said Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “If we expect our workers to compete in the 21st century and our state to attract the best and brightest of the next generation, we have to invest in our communities, not starve them of critical resources.”
During Kasich’s tenure, Ohio’s education rankings have tumbled from fifth in 2010 to 22nd nationally, according to the education-industry trade publication, Education Week. School funding is still lagging behind pre-recession levels, with $1 billion dollars less for public schools since 2008 while Ohio charter schools have received an historic $1 billion in taxpayer dollars.
“The legislature has failed to find a constitutional model of supporting our public schools for two decades, but continues to throw good money after bad at failing, for-profit charter schools,” said Strahorn. “Cutting public education while funneling more taxpayer dollars to a charter industry beset by scandal only hurts our children and will leave them unprepared to compete in the 21st century economy.”
Though Kasich expanded Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act, many Ohioans continue to face barriers to good health. According to the United Health Foundation, Ohio ranks 39 out of 50 nationally for population health and the average Ohioan’s life expectancy is a full year below that of the average American. Instead of pursuing policies to increase access to care, however, Kasich – in his new budget – is kicking some 40,000 vulnerable Ohioans off of healthcare through new taxes and fees.
In addition, while the nation’s infant mortality rate has dropped to an historic low, Ohio has lagged behind other states in improving its abysmally high infant mortality rate. The Buckeye State has consistently fallen near the bottom of state rankings of infant mortality rates under Kasich’s watch, and a pronounced racial gap in the rate means black babies in Ohio are three times as likely to die before reaching their first birthday.
Meanwhile, Ohio leads the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths under Kasich’s watch. Despite repeated calls from Democrats, the governor has refused to recognize the statewide opioid epidemic as the statewide emergency that it is and release emergency funding to support law enforcement, treatment providers and first responders struggling to address the crisis at the local level.
“From our high infant mortality rate to the growing opioid addiction crisis, Ohio’s challenges to our health and well-being hold us back from full growth and opportunity,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Unfortunately, the governor has ignored the calls for him to lead with resources, especially in terms of combatting the statewide heroin and opioid emergency that is claiming more lives with each passing day.”
The governor will deliver his seventh State of the State address tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4 in Sandusky, Ohio.
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) was recently elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus (OHDWC), a position that plays a vital role in advancing the caucus’s agenda.
“I am honored to be elected to this leadership position by my colleagues to help advance more Ohio women,” said Lepore-Hagan. “It is so important for each and every woman to have equal opportunities and representation at home, at work and more importantly: at the state level. I look forward to working with those that share this sentiment to help build a better and brighter future for women across the state.”
The OHDWC develops key policy initiatives relating to women’s rights, including access to comprehensive healthcare, equal pay for equal work and protections from domestic abusers, among others. The caucus hosts several advocacy events throughout the year, including Equal Pay Day on April 4 this year and the annual Women’s Lobby Day.
While women make up over half of America’s population and workforce, they are still disproportionately underrepresented in many other areas. During the previous Ohio General Assembly, only 24 percent of lawmakers were women, including 27 percent of women lawmakers in the House chamber and only 15 percent of women lawmakers in the Senate chamber.
The mission of the OHDWC is to develop and pass policies and legislation that improve the lives of Ohio women and their families; to identify and support emerging women leaders by serving as mentors; to educate and empower women; and to increase women’s involvement in public life and in the Ohio General Assembly.
House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources.
“If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.”
The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state.
“We owe it to future Ohioans to make sure we leave behind a state that is thriving, healthy and safe,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Rolling back the opportunity to be a leader in the emerging renewable energy industry is not only harmful to our environment but also our economy.”
Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future.
“If we really care about job creation and positioning Ohio for a 21st century economy, then we should promote such a vision and plan – but HB 114 does nothing of the sort,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “I cannot support a bill that impedes the creation of new jobs and endangers the environment for our people and our children.”
Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity this May.
“This legislation threatens thousands of current and future jobs in the renewable energy industry, including jobs connected to wind-power projects here in Northwest Ohio,” said Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). “HB 114 will hurt consumers, workers and the economy by squandering Ohio’s opportunity to be an advanced energy leader in the 21st century.”
In addition to changing the state’s energy efficiency standards to goals, HB 114 also allows corporations to bypass additional charges on Ohio consumers from utility companies designed to recoup the cost of advanced energy.
“This legislation takes Ohio backwards rather than advancing 21st century innovation and puts job growth and the environment at a disadvantage,” said Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The biggest losers with this bill are the people of Ohio.”
Ohio’s energy efficiency standards were originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. According to various reports, the standards have since saved consumers over $1 billion in energy costs, helped create thousands of jobs in the state’s advanced energy industry, and were on track to reduce an estimated 23 million tons of annual carbon pollution by 2029, helping prevent thousands of lost work days, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. Just this week, a new report showed that Ohio gained more than 1,000 jobs related to solar power alone in 2016, though that rate of growth ranks slightly below the national average.
“This is our time, and this is our moment,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “We are the first generation to understand the human causes of climate change – and the last generation to be able to stop it.”
Due to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. Roughly 7,200 businesses and approximately 89,000 workers are directly employed in Ohio’s clean energy sector.
Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about House Bill 114:
“If the Department of Defense – the nation's largest consumer of energy – is expanding the use of renewable energy systems to save our soldiers’ lives by utilizing on-the-go solar panels and electricity-generating backpacks to cut down on refueling trips to the battlefield; if Michigan, the home of the Wolverines, can hit their 10 percent level of renewable energy – why can't Ohio?” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). “I oppose HB 114 and the Republican majority's desire to set Ohio’s energy standards back even further.”
“The passage of HB 114 and repealing of Ohio's energy standard sends the message that Ohio is not interested in creating new jobs and attracting businesses to Ohio,” said Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “As other states continue to surpass their standards we have instead chosen to take a step backwards. This is a huge disservice to our economy, our environment, our public health and our national security.”
“In the Mahoning Valley in general and Youngstown in particular, we’ve seen first-hand the ways in which innovation, research and development can drive economic growth and job creation,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Now, unfortunately and inexplicably, Republicans lawmakers want us to walk away from one of the most vibrant and exciting industries of the 21st century – an industry that will drive economic growth, provide our universities an opportunity to monetize their advanced energy technology research, create good jobs and save consumers billions of dollars, all while protecting our environment. Here’s the bottom line: HB 114 isn’t just bad policy, it’s pure folly.”
“My GOP colleagues have sent Ohio backward by rolling back our state's renewable energy mandates,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “By not passing my amendment in support of Ohio's wind energy sector, the Republican chamber continues to maintain an artificial market barrier that stifles Ohio's wind industry, therefore depriving our state of potentially $3.4 billion dollars’ worth of economic activity. This legislation is short-sighted and harmful to both present-day Ohioans and our future generations.”
“The Department of Defense recognizes that our economic and national security are directly related to our ability to find alternative energy sources,” said Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland). “Ohio has increased jobs, efficiency and cost savings with our renewable portfolio and instead of driving innovations, new technologies and multiple sources of energy, this bill sounds the trumpet of retreat.”
“Ohio’s strength has always come from building what the world wants – from cars, to ships, to steel. Now, the world also wants alternative energy technologies, and I want them to be built here in Ohio, by Ohioans,” said State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “Unfortunately, the passage of this bill makes that a whole lot less likely. Policies that are good for the planet are in fact good for job growth. Ignoring that reality hurts Ohio’s economy, health and future.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) recently introduced House Bill (HB) 138, legislation to fight pay discrimination in Ohio by establishing a toll-free equal pay hotline, an easily accessible, anonymous resource for workers to report wage discrimination and gather more information to find out if they could be victims of pay discrimination.
“While the federal Equal Pay Act was enacted over fifty years ago, Ohio has done little more to protect worker’s paychecks from unprecedented and illegal discrimination,” said Smith. “By providing the tools necessary to help ensure folks are receiving equal pay for equal work, we can attract more top talent and create a stronger economy for all Ohioans.”
The average working woman in Ohio is paid only 75 percent of what her male counterpart gets paid, regardless of educational background and job description. Minority women suffer the worst pay disparity: nationally, African American women are paid 63 cents and Hispanic and Latina women are paid 54 cents for every $1 paid to white men.
“Ohio workers should be able to discuss their salaries and report discrepancies without fearing they will be treated differently, demoted or fired,” said Boyd. “With women making up nearly half of Ohio’s workforce, the gender wage gap not only affects them but their entire families. This pay gap takes money out of the pockets of hardworking Ohioans that could otherwise go to helping families put food on the table, gas in the tank or even make a rent or mortgage payment.”
According to data compiled by the White House, in 2011, a typical 25-year-old woman working full time all year earned $5,000 less than a typical 25-year-old man. In just 10 years, her cumulative lost wages will reach $34,000. U.S. Census information shows by age 65, the average woman will have lost $431,000 over her working lifetime as a result of the earnings gap. At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported the gender wage gap in Ohio is projected to close in 2067, or 50 years from now.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, where Ohioans can currently file individual or group charges of discrimination for investigation, would operate the pay equity hotline. Calls can be made anonymously through the hotline. Anonymity is not required, but is an option for those who may fear retribution from their employer for filing a complaint.
With Ohio leading the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths, departing state Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) penned a letter today to Gov. John Kasich expressing her disappointment that the state hasn’t been willing to devote more resources to fighting the statewide opioid overdose emergency.
Johnson has called on the governor numerous times in the last year to declare the Buckeye State’s opioid crisis a statewide emergency, freeing up emergency funding for first responders, treatment and law enforcement.
Sunday marks Johnson’s final day at the Ohio House as she prepares to begin her new role as deputy law director for Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.
The full text of the letter is below and attached:
March 23, 2017
Dear Gov. John Kasich,
It has been an honor to serve the people of the 35th District as their representative. As I look toward the end of my time in that office, I can't help but feel like the state has let the people of the 35th down. Everywhere I go in Summit County, the number one issue of concern is the statewide opioid epidemic. Folks continue to ask what the state is doing about it. And, I continue to say, not enough.
I have called upon you, the speaker and the senate president to call this epidemic what it is: a statewide emergency. I have never heard back directly from your office, but I read that you've stated that you can't do that.
You can't do that despite the fact that you declared last summer's GOP convention in Cleveland an emergency so that law enforcement agencies could be reimbursed by the state. You previously declared an emergency when animals escaped from a private zoo in Eastern Ohio. Neither of those situations caused damage to property or harm to citizens, yet, you somehow had the authority to declare an emergency, and release emergency funding from a $53-million-dollar emergency fund.
Your Emergency Management Agency is currently supplying cooling trailers to county morgues because the opioid epidemic is literally stacking up bodies all over Ohio. Your Emergency Management Agency. It is in the name. This is an emergency.
Last week in my district, two children (aged two and six) overdosed on opioids in separate incidents.
What will it take for this state to take a unified approach to stop talking about it and start doing something about it? Ohio needs a bi-cameral, bi-partisan committee to holistically address this emergency, and Ohio needs it right now. Piecemeal efforts to address enforcement, education and treatment are not sufficient.
Your budget did not reflect an antidote to the affliction. Simply put, you need to do more than talk about Medicaid at the federal level. You need to actually demand that your constituents retain their healthcare coverage that allows them to receive treatment. But, more so, you need to ensure that treatment is actually available.
Unfortunately, treatment won't come without a price tag. We live in the most advanced capitalist society in the world after all. Everything costs something, and doing more costs more. But your budget flat-funds efforts to beat back this statewide epidemic of emergency proportions.
Beds need to be opened, professionals need to be trained, police departments need to have their local government funding restored and like an addicted person trying to recover, you need to call this epidemic what it is: a statewide emergency.
But instead of calling this what it is and providing additional resources, you're ironically shoveling local communities and families the same rhetoric coming out of Washington - 'it's a local responsibility, the state can only do so much.'
You recently wrote GOP congressional leaders about your party's proposed efforts to essentially gut Medicaid health insurance, writing that Trumpcare "provides almost no new flexibility for states, does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states."
Indeed, you're exploring new altitudes of hypocrisy when you're quick to pen a letter decrying federal cuts, but gravely slow to reverse state cuts.
You will be happy to know that I am in a way taking your advice. After your huffing and puffing about local communities having the real responsibility to take on the heroin crisis, I am returning to public service at the local level with the belief and knowledge that there really are elected officials who are committed to turning words into action and meeting citizens of this state where they are in life - in need of safety, in need of security, in need of opportunity, in need of hope, and sometimes, in need of care.
While Ohio leads the nation in deaths from opioids and in deaths from heroin, I believe you have a moral obligation tell Ohioans and the rest of the country that we are in a state of emergency, and that addiction is not a moral issue.
And, while addiction is not a moral issue, choosing to do nothing about people dying from addiction is.
Representative to the 35th House District
As the nation marks the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act today, Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today spoke out against the GOP’s current efforts to decimate the landmark healthcare reform law that has expanded coverage to roughly 20 million Americans and reduced the country’s uninsured rate to an all-time low.
“After seven years of hearing partisan attacks against the Affordable Health Care Act and promises of a better way forward, it’s clear today that the American people have been misled,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Not only does Trumpcare threaten economic growth and increase costs for families, seniors and individuals, but it will have life-or-death consequences, forcing families to choose between paying for medical coverage and keeping a roof over their heads or saving for their future.”
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 24 million fewer Americans will have access to affordable healthcare under the initial Trumpcare proposal. Ohio stands to lose some $26 billion in federal healthcare funding, while one out of four Ohioans will see reduced healthcare eligibility and services. Meanwhile, the original Trumpcare proposal will actually increase overall healthcare costs for the average Ohio enrollee by nearly $3,000, and by over $5,000 for older Ohio enrollees in 2020.
“I believe that healthcare is a right for all Americans, not a privilege for the few,” said House Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The plan to take away healthcare is a prescription for disaster and will make our country sick again.”
Unveiled in March, the Trumpcare legislation reverses the expansion of Medicaid, reduces tax credits available to middle-class families and revises the ACA’s requirement that larger employers must offer health coverage to full-time employees. The plan also provides wealthy individuals who earn more than $774,000 a year a tax break of up to $197,000.
“Healthcare is not a political issue—it is a human issue,” said House Democratic Assistant Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Republicans are playing with people’s lives just to add to their scorecard. This is a dangerous game, and it goes against everything we stand for as policymakers and elected representatives. People can’t afford to pay more for less healthcare, and they certainly can’t afford to pay with their lives.”
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote to repeal the ACA and pass Trumpcare today.
Here are what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about the Affordable Care Act:
“As a social worker, I have spent years helping families and seniors gain access to high quality healthcare on a community level and learning the needs of my neighbors. That is why I am so strongly opposed to Trumpcare. Ohio already leads the nation in opiate deaths and black infant mortality, and comes up short in health outcomes. We can’t afford limited access to care at unaffordable prices as Trumpcare is suggesting. I cannot sit back quietly and watch Republicans in Washington pass a plan that we know will hurt people who are already suffering. As the most advanced society in the world we have a duty to ensure the American people have affordable access to lifesaving healthcare.” —Rep. Thomas E. West (D-Canton)
“Undoing affordable access to healthcare jeopardizes the health and financial stability of working and middle class families and our most vulnerable citizens – our children. The most prosperous nation in the world should afford its citizens a basic level of stability through affordable healthcare to ensure Americans can hold a job and meet their financial obligations without mortgaging their family’s future.” —Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus)
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) today applauded the passage of House Bill (HB) 80, their bipartisan legislation to combat child hunger in Ohio. HB 80 would allow outside organizations to use schools as summer meal sites to ensure hungry children have access to a nutritious lunch even when school is out of session.
“It is unacceptable that over a half million Ohio children go hungry when they are not in school,” said Smith. “By allowing schools to partner with qualified organizations in the summer to provide healthy meals to students in need at no cost to the school district, we can help reduce child hunger in our state.”
In 2016, the Food Research and Action Center reported that nearly 650,000 school-aged children in Ohio were eligible for free or discounted meals in 2014-2015, yet only 10 percent of eligible children had access to these meals during the summer months when school is typically not in session. According to the report, Ohio is one of six states to most miss out on federal funding available to help feed school children in need.
“Summer nutrition programs serve as a bridge to fill the summer meal gap for students, and increased participation by summer meal sponsors at school sites will help to reduce food insecurity,” said LaTourette. “I am so pleased to see this bill move forward with this favorable vote on the House floor today.”
Current law requires each school district board in Ohio to extend either its school breakfast program or lunch program throughout the summer, or offer a summer food service program. However, district boards may opt out of the summer food requirement if they lack financial means.
Under HB 80, if a local school district in which at least half of all students are eligible for free or reduced lunches opts out of the summer food program, the district board can submit an approved summer food service program sponsor permit to the State Board of Education, allowing the sponsor to utilize available school facilities to provide meals for students.
HB 80 was voted out of the House 89-4 and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.
“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”
State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*
“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.
Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.
WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.