State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) on Wednesday voted “no” on House Bill 49, Ohio’s biennium budget legislation. During negotiations earlier this week, Republican lawmakers pushed the budget closer to the brink with eleventh hour horse-trading over a Medicaid lockout and complex money maneuvers to make up for a $1 billion financial shortfall.

“From the time Gov. Kasich took office in 2011 to the present, Ohio’s economy has seen disastrous declines in education funding and empty promises regarding job creation.” said Ashford. “Now, Republican lawmakers want to make massive budget cuts to pay for their own mistakes. This budget is fake, fiscally irresponsible and unfairly places a heavier burden on local communities. Taking away vital services and programs will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable Ohioans.”

Notable cuts to HB 49 include a nearly $17 million loss to the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, approximately $1 million to the Department of Aging, $6 million to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, $8.5 million to the Department of Health, and over $40,000 to the Commission on Minority Health. In its current form, the budget will also freeze Medicaid expansions on July 1, 2018, affecting millions of Ohioans.

“The Medicaid freeze will affect more than 29,600 Medicaid enrollees in my district in Toledo,” said Ashford. “Additionally, the cut to education will result in schools receiving $10 less per student. Overall, Toledo Public Schools will receive $250,000 less in financial support from the state.”

During the months-long budget process, House Democratic lawmakers called on Republicans to come together on economic and tax reforms that would put $200 million of real money against opioid addiction while also walking back six years of tax-shifting that have caused Ohio to trail the nation in job creation. House Democrats also said the state could better attract new businesses and good-paying jobs by rebuilding local communities and prioritizing education funding for every student to earn the skills they need to compete.

Though Republican lawmakers are seeking a six-year federal waiver for a new Medicaid tax that would keep counties and transit authorities from losing $200 million per year, local communities and schools have still had to ask local taxpayers for more money after the state cut almost $3 billion during the last six years. 

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