Craig: 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
 
 

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. 


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. Democratic lawmakers also offered several amendments on the House floor, including proposals to provide $500 million in real funding increases for opioid addiction treatment.


“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.”


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. 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.


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.


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.


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.  

 
 
 
  
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