Often in our day-to-day lives, we may forget the sacrifices made by our greatest public servants – the brave and selfless men and women in the Armed Services. 


We owe them a tremendous debt. The freedoms we enjoy are not free, and the price tag is often grim. We know that we can never repay that debt. We can only acknowledge it, and say, “thank you.” 


The celebration of Memorial Day reminds us of this debt we owe to our veterans and current military members, whose selflessness, sacrifice and courage helps keep our nation safe. 


Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was custom to decorate a soldier’s grave with flowers. 


In his 1868 proclamation to set aside this day, General John A. Logan instructed there to be thoughts to “cherish tenderly the memories of our heroic dead who made their breast a barricade between our country and its foes.” 


Memorial Day was finally recognized as a national holiday in 1971, when Congress passed the National Holiday Act. 


Since its inception, Memorial Day has evolved into a celebration to pay tribute to all who have fought and defended our country in the various wars throughout the years, including the ongoing military efforts that our brave men and women find themselves in today in the Middle East. 


Let us use this time to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, and honor those who gave our state and nation so much, including many valiant Ohio sons and daughters

 
 
  
 
Seventh Annual Women's Lobby Day Empowers Women To Engage State Lawmakers
Discussion and advocacy focuses on gender equality, opportunity in Ohio
May 24, 2017
 
 

State Rep. and Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), State Rep. and Vice Chair Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus today gathered with about 200 women representing nearly 30 counties from across the state to discuss and lobby for policy solutions to challenges Ohio women and families face.


“Women’s active participation in the political process is vital to ensure equal representation, especially after men dominated the polls up and down the ballot during the last election,” said OHDWC Chair Teresa Fedor. “When women in Ohio don’t have the same level of access to opportunity and prosperity, our entire state pays the price. By empowering women to engage with their elected officials and advocate for policies that advance gender equality in our state, we can help boost the quality of life for all Ohio families.”


The seventh annual event, entitled “Empowering Women, Empowering Ohio” featured guest speakers, a lobbying seminar, policy briefings from women legislators and an informal debriefing discussion with participants and advocates. Lawmakers advocated for ne Ohio laws on equal pay, paid family leave, workplace discrimination, access to comprehensive healthcare, infant mortality, and preventing sexual violence and domestic violence.


“Now, more than ever, Women’s Lobby Day is critically important because it gives us the opportunity to both resist the rollback of programs, policies and laws that protect and empower women and persist in the pursuit of initiatives that will enable women across the globe to reach their full potential,” said OHDWC Vice Chair Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Today, our voices will be heard in the halls of power and the messages we deliver will echo long after this important event ends.”


According to the Status of Women in the States report, released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ohio ranks 27th in access to healthcare, 30th in poverty and opportunity measures, and 39th in health and well-being. Ohio doesn’t receive a grade higher than C in any category defined by the report.


“The fight for women’s equality in this nation is often a fight for fairness and equal access to the law,” said House Minority Whip and past OHDWC Chair Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “However, women are also put in dangerous situations where they must fight for their lives. During this General Assembly, I plan to re-introduce legislation that offers fairness by closing dangerous gaps in Ohio law that make it easy for convicted domestic abusers to obtain guns. No woman should have to live in fear for her life because of a loophole in the law.”


Several women lawmakers took the opportunity to address participants about legislation they have introduced that would positively affect women and working families in Ohio. Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) highlighted House Bill 61, legislation she introduced to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, including pads and tampons.


“Feminine care products are medical necessities that Ohio women need to fully participate in school, work and in their community,” said Rep. Kelly.


Additionally, Rep. Kelly highlighted the need to include more women in conversations concerning wages and the workforce.


“We need more women at the table in every aspect of state government, but we especially need female voices when preparing for our state’s economic future,” said Rep. Kelly. “An increasing number of families now have women serving as the primary breadwinner, and nearly one-third of working women in Ohio have low-wage jobs. If we truly want to implement policies that will lift Ohioans out of poverty, we must be serious about advancing policies like raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and equal pay. We can do much more to ensure economic prosperity for the people of our state if priorities like those discussed at Women’s Lobby Day are passed into law.”


The mission of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus 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 increase women's involvement in public life and in the Ohio General Assembly.


Here are what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about Women’s Lobby Day:


“From unequal pay to access to healthcare, there are a wide range of issues that women in Ohio face every day,”said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “I am delighted to join my colleagues to discuss important policies that would close the wage gap, eliminate hospital transfer agreements for healthcare clinics and keep discrimination out of the workplace and public housing.”


“We must highlight the importance of bringing more women to the table. When more of us get involved in our communities and help other women find their voices to advocate for what they believe in, we will not only create stronger neighborhoods, but we will help today’s children grow into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus). “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reduce Ohio’s increased violence and poverty rates to ensure women receive equal justice, equal social status and equal economic benefits.”

 

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State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement in response to a state ruling against ECOT, the state’s biggest, failing online charter school, for what amounts to embezzling some $60 million in taxpayer dollars by falsely inflating student attendance:


“ECOT and other charter schools have been fleecing taxpayers for years while GOP lawmakers turned a blind eye speaking at graduation ceremonies and building their campaign coffers on the broken promises to families, taxpayers – and most importantly – our children.


“With sixty-million dollars essentially being stolen from taxpayers, today’s ruling draws into question the massive amounts of cash GOP lawmakers have accepted from ECOT over the years. I am calling on GOP lawmakers to tally up and return all ECOT campaign donations in a check written to the state from their campaign.


“If we refuse to fully hold Ohio’s failed charter school experiment accountable through tougher laws and standards, lawmakers should at minimum hold themselves accountable for being complicit in the theft of tax dollars from our taxpayers. That starts with doing the right thing, and returning campaign donations to the state.”


 


 

 
 
  
 
Bipartisan Music Recording Tax Credit Gets Attention From House Committee
N.E. Ohio lawmakers say "OhioSounds" tax incentive would attract recording industry projects, create jobs
May 10, 2017
 
 

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) gave sponsor testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday on a bi-partisan effort to create jobs and drive economic growth by making Ohio a destination for the recording industry. The Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, also known as OhioSounds, will work to attract more of the almost $7 billion in annual music industry revenue to the state.  


“While other states, like Georgia which just signed their program into law on May 8, are also pushing for recording studio incentives, I believe Ohio should get ahead of the curve in attracting new music recording projects as well as growing our existing studios and musical talent,” said Rep. Smith. “OhioSounds builds upon our proud music history and works to cultivate our state’s musical legacy moving forward.” 


The proposed tax credit will grant a 25-percent tax credit for sound recording production projects in the state. The incentive program will also return 25-percent of music studio construction and recording infrastructure costs to qualifying participants. To qualify, sound production costs must exceed $10,000 per project, with a maximum tax credit of $75,000 per project and a total annual tax credit cap of $1 million for the program. 


“I am pleased to be joint-sponsoring, for the second time with Representative Kent Smith, the Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit. House Bill 162 has the potential for a huge economic impact to the state and we look forward to any additional hearings that may take place on the bill,” Representative LaTourette stated. 


Smith and LaTourette’s proposal models a similar tax incentive program in Louisiana, which allows current residents to access credits for music production within the state without an upper cap limit. The Ohio program differs in that the credit is not limited to Ohio residents. However, with an upper limit of $75,000, the lawmakers believe the credit is sustainable.  

 
 
  
 
Clyde Testifies On TRUMP Act Before House Committee
Urges committee to hold further hearings to engage the public on issue
May 09, 2017
 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) testified today on House Bill 93, the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (TRUMP) Act in its first hearing in the Ohio House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee. The TRUMP Act would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their five most recent years of tax returns to qualify for the Ohio ballot.


“I am encouraged that the TRUMP Act is moving forward,” said Rep. Clyde. “I urge the committee to continue to hold hearings on this important legislation so that the American people know those vying for our highest offices are honest, accountable and acting in the best interest of our nation.”


Rep. Clyde’s full testimony is below:


Chairwoman Roegner, Vice Chairman Lipps, Ranking Member Leland and members of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of House Bill 93, the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public or TRUMP Act.


Every major party presidential nominee since 1980 has disclosed their tax returns until this past election, when our current president broke 40 years of precedent and refused to disclose his taxes. Without full disclosure of the president’s tax returns, we don’t know who he owes money to. We don’t know who has leverage over him. The TRUMP Act would be the surest way to protect the American public from presidential conflicts of interest and to answer questions about possible foreign influence and entanglement. This bill would bring transparency back to our elections and make the president accountable to his bosses – the American people.


The TRUMP Act would require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose their most recent five years of tax returns in order to qualify for the Ohio ballot. Under the TRUMP Act, candidates would have until 90 days prior to the election to file their returns with the Ohio Secretary of State, who would then have 7 days to disclose those records to the public. Refusal or failure to disclose returns would prohibit candidates from appearing on the Ohio ballot and disqualify them from receiving votes from Ohio’s electors.


A presidential and vice-presidential candidate’s tax returns would reveal:


-How much income he made


-If he gave to charity and how much


-Any deductions he took


-How much he paid in taxes


-Whether he has foreign bank accounts


-His businesses’ profits and losses


-Whether he paid taxes to foreign governments


-How much he would benefit from his own proposed changes to the tax code


The TRUMP Act is modeled after similar tax return disclosure proposals that have been introduced in at least 26 states to date, including three where the law has already passed both the House and Senate.


This is not a partisan issue, as both Democrats and Republicans have supported versions of the TRUMP Act across the country. And both Democratic and Republican candidates for president have released their tax returns. Even Governor Kasich released his returns when he ran for president even though he did not release them when he ran for governor. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe presidential candidates should disclose their tax returns.


This president and his family have business interests in many other countries, including Russia. We know he is not fully walled off from his business. His children give him updates about the Trump Organization and he can withdraw money from it whenever he wants. This is not normal. We as Americans should have confidence that our leaders are acting to benefit the American people and not their own personal and business interests. It is a privilege to serve the public and that privilege comes with the duty to be transparent and free of conflicts. The TRUMP Act is a necessary first step in that direction.


Madam Chair, thank you for allowing me to testify on this important legislation. I urge you to consider having additional hearings so that we may hear from and engage with the public on these issues. I would be happy to answer any questions from you and the committee.

 
 
  
 
Clyde To Make Case For Taking Up TRUMP Act
Kent lawmaker to testify in Statehouse committee on Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public legislation
May 09, 2017
 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) will testify on House Bill 93, the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (TRUMP) Act in its first hearing in the Ohio House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, TODAY, Tuesday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m. in Statehouse room 115.  


The TRUMP Act would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their five most recent years of tax returns to qualify for the Ohio ballot.


WHO:               State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent)


WHAT:            Testimony on the TRUMP Act


WHEN:            TODAY, Tuesday, May 9 at 4:00 p.m.


WHERE:        House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee


Ohio Statehouse room 115

 
 
  

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the lead Democratic member on the House budget committee, voted “no” on the House version of the state budget Tuesday, expressing concern the budget was unbalanced and fiscally irresponsible.


“The state has responsibility to balance the budget and pay its bills, just like the families and people in our community,” said Cera. “Not only is that responsibility important to the economic stability of the working people and families of our state, but it’s required under our constitution. This isn’t Washington.”


In mid-April, Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the state budget, House Bill 49, to maintain a stable, balanced budget for 2018 and 2019. Still, Tuesday’s final House version of the state budget fell hundreds of millions of dollars short of being a balanced budget bill by that measure.   


Following Tuesday’s House passage of an unbalanced two-year state budget bill, the Kasich Administration Wednesday released the latest tax revenues for the current fiscal year, showing Ohio’s stumbling economy resulted in a nearly $160 million shortfall for April 2017 alone. Ohio’s fiscal shortfall during the course of one year now climbs to negative $1.057 billion under GOP leadership.


“The problem is, over the last six years, Ohioans were promised tax giveaways for the wealthy paid for by tax hikes on the rest of us would grow our economy and create jobs – but this tax shifting promise just hasn’t come true,” Cera said. “That’s the reasons we’re up against a wall today, people still can’t get ahead. They’re not getting raises. They’re paying more than their fair share in taxes, and life is getting more expensive.”


Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, Ohio families bring home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, and close to 30 percent of Ohio jobs are low wage, paying less than poverty wages.


During the House floor debate Tuesday, Cera lead the push for a bipartisan oversight commission, The Budget Management and Stabilization Commission, to investigate the cause of Ohio’s missing money and to ensure the state budget is structurally balanced and stable. Ohio put a similar commission in place during the global financial crisis of 2009.


Cera also pushed other lawmakers to change Ohio’s outdated severance tax laws, to ensure Eastern Ohio communities recoup their fair share of tax revenue that is generated in their own backyard. The state currently keeps all severance tax dollars from oil and gas exploration, and has used it in the past to pay for income tax giveaways that mostly benefitted millionaires and billionaires.


“If it’s a choice between politicians in Columbus doing the right thing with money, or local communities making those decisions, I think most people would rather see that money and those decisions coming back home,” Cera added.


Cera argued that returning the local tax dollars back to the community could be used to put people back to work with good-paying jobs rebuilding local infrastructure. The Bellaire lawmaker garnered some bipartisan support for a proposal to bring those dollars home, but it was ultimately shot down by Republicans.


The House version of the state budget passed Tuesday with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to vote no and four Democrats joining Republicans to pass the bill 58 to 37.

 
 
  

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) released the following statement in response to the Republican passage of Trumpcare in the U.S. House of Representatives by a razor thin margin today:


“Republicans are playing a dangerous game with the health, safety, and economic stability of millions of Americans and almost one-million Ohio families and children. Rolling back the Affordable Care Act takes us backwards to a darker time in our nation, when people who were sick with diseases like diabetes and cancer couldn’t get the lifesaving care they needed without going bankrupt or gambling their family’s financial future. Today’s vote puts more stress on millions of families across America. We can only hope cooler heads prevail, and the Senate does right by the American people instead of a political party.”


The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to fully analyze the latest version of Trumpcare, but healthcare experts expect it to be similar to the previous version of the bill, under which 24 million Americans had little or no access to affordable healthcare. Under that version, Ohio also lost some $26 billion in federal healthcare funding, while one out of four Ohioans would have seen reduced healthcare eligibility and services. Costs also skyrocketed for the average Ohio enrollee by nearly $3,000, and by over $5,000 for older Ohio enrollees in 2020. 

 
 
  
 
Unbalanced Budget Disaster Deepens As Current Fiscal Shortfall Climbs
Fiscal shortfall passes $1 billion
May 03, 2017
 
 

Following Tuesday’s House passage of an unbalanced two-year state budget bill, the Kasich Administration today released the latest tax revenues for the current fiscal year, showing Ohio’s stumbling economy resulted in a nearly $160 million shortfall for April 2017 alone.


Ohio’s fiscal shortfall during the course of one year now climbs to negative $1.057 billion under GOP leadership. Today’s revenue returns suggest a serious financial problem for the state now, even before the upcoming state budget is finalized in June.


“Ohioans are looking to their elected leaders in Columbus to confront the greatest challenges facing our state – the opioid addiction crisis claiming thousands of lives each year, an unconstitutional funding model for our public schools, rising infant mortality and falling wages – but the state cannot afford to make meaningful progress to grow the middle class after years of tax-shifting have blown a hole in our fiscal future,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton).


In the midst of budget negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year, Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the bill to maintain a stable, balanced budget for 2018 and 2019. Still, Tuesday’s final House version of the state budget, House Bill 49, fell hundreds of millions of dollars short of being a balanced budget bill by that measure. 


It is unclear if Ohio Republicans will make a new call for even steeper cuts or tax increases to account for the dropping revenues.


“The jobs and growth that Republicans and Governor Kasich promised us simply haven’t come true in Ohio,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the lead Democratic member on the House budget committee. “Now, all we have to show for six years of their policies is weaker schools, weaker communities and higher taxes on homeowners, seniors, local taxpayers and working people. Taxpayers deserve a simple answer as to whether Republicans will raise taxes or gut essential services and programs to make ends meet.”


Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, Ohio families bring home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, and close to 30 percent of Ohio jobs are low wage, paying less than poverty wages.


House Democratic lawmakers have called for a bipartisan oversight commission, The Budget Management and Stabilization Commission, to investigate the cause of Ohio’s missing money and to ensure the state budget is structurally balanced and stable.

 
 
  
 
Ohio House Pushes Unfinished, Unbalanced State Budget Off On Senate
After six years of GOP tax-shifting, Ohio's broken economy brings GOP promise of $800M in cuts
May 02, 2017
 
 

Before new state economic indicators come out Thursday, the Ohio House today passed a version of the state’s two-year budget, House Bill (HB) 49, that remains hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance, if not more. The vote comes a little more than two weeks after Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the bill to maintain a stable, balanced budget. Still, the final version of House Bill 49 approved largely along party lines today fell over $400 million short of being a balanced budget bill by that standard. 


“The inability to adequately invest in Ohio’s future due to vanishing revenues is a direct result of six years of failed GOP economic policies that shifted taxes onto local communities and middle-class families,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Republicans promised that tax cuts for the wealthy would deliver a thriving economy and vibrant communities, and yet Ohio has trailed the nation in job growth for fifty-one consecutive months, families bring home less income than the national average, and Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths. Just hitting the brakes on tax-shifting in this budget is not enough to stop Ohio from falling over the fiscal cliff. We need a real plan that reverses the failed economic policies of the past and focuses the future so the next generation of working people can have economic stability and a clear path to the middle class in our state.”


Democratic members argued that passing an unbalanced budget not only violated their constitutional oath, but was fiscally irresponsible and would jeopardize Ohio’s already weak economy.


“Instead of investing in our schools, communities and the middle class families that drive our economic growth, Republican lawmakers shifted taxes for the past six years to help pay for handouts to the wealthiest one percent,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the top Democrat on the House budget committee. “However, now that Ohio is on the verge of a recession, GOP lawmakers are unwilling to make the tough financial decisions that citizens elected them to and instead are pushing off their responsibility to pass a balance budget onto the Senate.”


Democratic lawmakers argued on the House floor that the past six years of GOP tax-shifting policies have not delivered the jobs and economic growth that Republicans promised, but instead harmed middle class families and directly contributed to the state’s current fiscal crisis.


“The damage from the tax shifting policies of Ohio’s Republican leadership have decimated our state for over a decade and further compounds the problems that our local communities and schools have been struggling with,” said House Democratic Assistant Leader Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma). “House Bill 49 and the unbalanced budget it creates unfortunately continues this trend and only further stacks the deck against working Ohioans.”


Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, Ohio families bring home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, and close to 30 percent of Ohio jobs are low wage, paying less than poverty wages.


“As we lead the nation in opioid overdose deaths and are forced to resort to emergency measures like mobile morgues, it is our responsibility to provide real resources for families and communities,” said House Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “Now, failed economic policies of the last six years have destabilized our budget, making it nearly impossible to guarantee real funding to combat the crisis unless we use emergency reserves. I stand by our calls over the past four years on GOP lawmakers to provide real resources in the fight against heroin and opioids. We owe families and communities across the state a real guarantee of more help and funding, and that’s not what we voted on today.”


Democratic lawmakers offered several amendments on the House floor, including proposals to provide close to $500 million in real funding increases for opioid addiction treatment. The lawmakers also called for a bipartisan oversight commission, The Budget Management and Stabilization Commission, to investigate the cause of Ohio’s missing money and to ensure the state budget is structurally balanced and stable.


“There is nothing more important than the health and well-being of the people of Ohio. If you are physically sick, mentally ill or struggling with addiction, you cannot get to work to support your family or get to school to earn a degree,” said House Democratic Assistant Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “And yet, in the midst of a statewide opioid epidemic, this budget creates new obstacles to access to healthcare for vulnerable Ohioans. I cannot support a budget that promises fake money to fight the opioid epidemic but at the same time threatens to cut people off from the critical healthcare services they need.”


Among other Democratic amendments were:


- Family First for Economic Stability Act, a provision that would provide equal pay and paid family leave for all Ohio families.


-Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Initiative, legislation that would create criminal penalties for state contract rule-rigging and prohibit the Administration’s appointed inspector general from a guaranteed career extension.


-College Affordability Omnibus, a duo of college affordability measures that cap tuition at a three-percent increase and increase Ohio’s College Opportunity Grant.


-Stabilizing Medicaid Expansion, a proposal that would put Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population into Ohio Revised Code to prevent political game-playing with access to lifesaving healthcare services.


-Get to School Safely, a proposal to restore transportation funding to K-12 Ohio schools.


-A House for Every Ohioan, a tax rebalancing bill to undo Republican property tax cost increases by 12.5 percent while increasing the Homestead Exemption eligibility and credits for retirees and senior citizens.


All were rejected along partisan line votes.


House Bill 49 now goes to the Ohio Senate for additional scrutiny. The Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Kasich must approve a balanced budget by June 30 to avoid government shutdown. 


Here is what House Democratic budget committee members are saying about the unbalanced state budget:


“Ohio is now dealing with the hard reality that too many of my constituents deal with back home – living paycheck to paycheck,” said Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “There is no guarantee that the next paycheck will be as high as the last one, and recent revenue numbers prove that to be true in Ohio. We needed to cut $800 million but Republican leaders only conserved a portion of that, leaving a gapping money hole for our counterparts in the Senate to deal with. This is an “if” budget— “if” the projections hold.”


“I worry that the budget we voted on today is an illusion. Republican leaders promised to cut $800 million to balance the state budget, but failed to make the tough decisions necessary and instead kicked the can down the road to the Senate,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “What is not an illusion are the results of six years of GOP tax-shifting in Lorain, where we are losing jobs and workers are earning below-average wages. We need a real, balanced budget that invests in the middle class and moves Ohio away from the verge of a recession, not more broken promises.”  


“According to the statewide coroner’s association, Ohio is on track to experience six thousand opioid-related deaths this year. Just in the first weekend this April, eight people died from opioid overdoses in Trumbull County alone,” said Rep. Michael J. O’Brien (D-Warren), who offered a floor amendment to tap Rainy Day funds for adult and child protective services, local boards of health and other service providers grappling with the impacts of the opioid crisis. “Unfortunately, the funds allocated in this unbalanced budget are too little, too late. We need to do more to confront this crisis affecting so many families across the state.”


“The budget passed today reflects years of fiscal mismanagement under GOP leadership and falls short of the investments needed to turn our economy around,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati). “This budget is more of the same burden-shifting to the middle class and local communities. This budget does not provide for long-term solutions in education, healthcare and the workforce that will drive our economy and quality of living forward.


Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying about the unbalanced state budget:


“This budget violates the oath we took to uphold the Ohio Constitution – and because it’s not balanced – all budget items are at risk. It is a fantasy budget.” – Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus)


“We are seeing the effects of six years of fiscally irresponsible budgets under Ohio Republicans,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent). Shifting the burden of taxes to working families and local communities while the wealthiest Ohioans see thousands in cuts has not only hurt growth in Ohio, it’s led to an $800 million budget hole. This fantasy budget is not balanced as required by Ohio law and does not solve the pressing issues facing our communities—jobs, education and relief for families struggling with addiction. I cannot knowingly support a budget that leaves so many Ohioans behind. For these reasons, I voted no on HB 49.”


“Ohioans were promised an economic "comeback" as a result of Republican policies to cut personal income taxes,” said OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “Instead, hardworking Ohio families are only experiencing setbacks – setbacks in terms of job opportunities that pay a living wage, setbacks in education and setbacks in the fight against poverty.


“My Democratic colleagues and I worked diligently to try to improve this budget so that we could make the investments necessary to recession-proof our state,” Howse continued. “Unfortunately, our amendments and ideas were rejected largely along partisan lines,” Howse added. “I hope the people of Ohio remember that Republicans and their failed economic policies are responsible for pushing Ohio to this point of fiscal uncertainty and instability.”


“If the Titanic had the chance to do it all over again, they would have taken a different route.  The tragedy of this luxury liner is that it received warnings, but maintained its preplanned course,” said state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “Ohio too has received warnings.  We have been told that state revenues are not meeting expectations. Recent data says state income tax receipts are 18 percent below projections. Yet “Steamship Ohio” continues unaltered through dangerous waters. The danger in a budget that has insufficient funds is that when a hole is the blown in the revenue side of the budget the process to correct that problem moves from well-reasoned to panicked.


“We owe the people of this state an honest budget on the expenditure side and the revenue side,” Smith added. “Since we are not being truthful about Ohio's declining dollars and the upcoming budget shortfall, the choices we will have to make to balance our budget will not be well thought out. They will be rushed and sloppy and that's not what our voters expect from us. We were sent here to fight for our constituents and make the tough decisions. Instead, many lawmakers are ignoring the warnings that this budget is going to sink. But it's full speed ahead in the state capitol.  We will worry about the iceberg later.”


“Majority lawmakers can’t have it both ways. The facts are that Medicaid covers opioid addiction treatment,” Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) said, in reference to new proposals to defund Medicaid every six months. “Reversing one hardship for another. People shouldn’t have to worry every six months if their access to healthcare will be cut off my politicians in Columbus. My opposition to this bill is opposition to children being left parentless, opposition to people not getting the treatment they need.”


“After years of shifting the responsibility to fund services to local governments and tax cuts for the wealthy, we now find Ohio lags in nearly every economic indicator as compared to the rest of the country,” said Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) “We need strategic investments in schools, workforce training, and – for crying out loud – pave our roads.”


“The budget proves once again that slashing taxes for the wealthy and failing to invest in our schools, neighborhoods, infrastructure and, most importantly our people, is an absolute and inevitable formula for disaster,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “As we've seen time, and time and time again, the trickle-down policies favored by the Republicans don't deliver prosperity, they deliver broken promises, disappointment and despair.”


“I am very concerned and deeply disappointed by the fact that the budget was passed out of the House today without a provision to provide financial relief to local communities that have suffered from significant state cuts,” said Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-McDonald). “I believe the failure to utilize the budget stabilization fund in the fight against the opioid epidemic presents philosophical, ideological, and even moral questions as to the sincerity with which we face this problem. The budget fails to treat the opioid crisis as the life-or-death emergency that it is for thousands of Ohioans, or prioritize it as such.”


“This budget takes Ohio one step forward and two steps back by neglecting to prioritize resources where they are most needed,” said Rep. Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati). “Traditional schools, middle-class families and everyday taxpayers will bear the brunt of this unbalanced budget. Misguided tax cuts have resulted in a massive budget shortfall that needs to be addressed. Punting this budget to the Senate without adequately addressing those problems is an abdication of our constitutional responsibility.”


“I believe the statewide opioid epidemic is one of the greatest challenges facing our state, and treatment providers, law enforcement and – most of all – families are looking to their elected officials to show leadership on this issue,”said Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus). “Unfortunately, Ohioans cannot count on the opioid-related money in this budget actually reaching their communities because more budget cuts must be made after House Republicans failed to craft a balanced, fiscally responsible budget. Moving forward, I hope state leaders will finally recognize the opioid epidemic for the statewide emergency that it is and invest real money toward helping those struggling with addiction.”

 
 
  
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Lawmakers Push Solution To Stabilize 31 Fiscally Distressed Communities Hit Hard By Kasich's Budget Cuts

 

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.



 
 

Reps. Howse, Clyde Introduce The Ohio Equal Pay Act

 

State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of House Bill 330, the Ohio Equal Pay Act. The legislation aims to address the persistent problem of unequal pay between women and men. 



 
 

Cleveland-area Lawmakers Say Ohio Could "amp Up" Economic Growth Through Music Industry

 

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge) today announced a bi-partisan effort to create jobs and drive economic growth by making Ohio a destination for the recording industry. The Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, also known as OhioSounds, will work to attract more of the almost $7 billion in annual music industry revenue to the state. 

“Ohio is the birthplace of legendary musicians, unforgettable songs and ‘Rock N’ Roll’,” said Rep. Smith. “OhioSounds honors our proud legacy and works to cultivate a winning model moving forward. Ohio can become a destination for musicians, producers and industry leaders who will create jobs and strengthen our local economies. The OhioSounds tax credit will solidify our commitment to Ohio’s musical heritage and create new music that will provide the soundtrack to our lives.”

“Much like the Ohio film tax credit, this legislation seeks to incentivize investment in Ohio and create jobs in a dynamic industry,” Representative LaTourette stated. “Northeast Ohio has seen quite an investment in response to the film tax credit, with major motion pictures filmed on the streets of Cleveland and throughout our region. Given our history as the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, it just makes sense to extend that incentive to the music industry and embrace our heritage as musical innovators.”