State Representatives Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) today announced their plan to eliminate the growing burden of student loan debt carried by many of Ohio’s college graduates.
“Higher education has become an arena in which banks and private lenders squeeze profit out of those looking to pave the way to a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Hagan. “This legislation allows graduates to stop checking over their shoulder to see if the collection agency is coming, and instead focus on starting their careers.”
Under the proposed legislation, tuition to any of Ohio’s thirteen public colleges and universities would be free during a student’s college career, eliminating the need to finance a college education by taking out loans. Instead, graduates would pay three percent of their income for 24 years to pay for the costs of their education and to fund the program for the benefit of future students.
With the average Ohio student graduating with over $28,000 in student loan debt, many young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying important life decisions such as buying a car, purchasing a home or even getting married and having children. By capping payback rates at three percent of one’s paycheck, students cannot become saddled with unmanageable debt.
“This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long,” said Rep. Foley. “The inaction on student loan debt is very real, and I think too many young people are wondering why their government has failed them in this regard.”
With an initial investment from the state, the fund would eventually become entirely self-supporting, thus removing the significant financial barriers that may otherwise discourage future generations from pursuing a higher education. Similar legislation recently passed in Oregon, where it received unanimous bi-partisan support.
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.