Rep. Antonio: State Budget Benefits Special Interests And Millionaires, Attacks Working Ohioans
Restrictions on collective bargaining, access to healthcare will weaken middle class

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today stood in opposition to House Bill 64, the state’s two-year budget bill. Democratic legislators voted against the measure, which they say lacks a vision to grow the economy and offers little opportunity for average Ohioans to get ahead. Instead, Democrats argue the bill advances partisan attacks on working Ohioans and policies that rig the tax system to help the richest one-percent and special interests.

House Democrats expressed disappointment in the latest iteration of an untargeted tax package that calls for a 6.3 percent cut across the board, totaling $1.83 billion over the biennium. Despite a number tax cuts since 2005, Ohio remains one of the last states yet to recover jobs lost during the Great Recession.

While cutting taxes for the wealthy, Republican lawmakers at the same time revived memories of Senate Bill 5 by adding a provision stripping collective bargaining rights from home healthcare workers. Without the right to negotiate, workers who care for our most vulnerable will be forced to take home less pay and potentially face unsafe conditions at work. The budget also includes other anti-worker restrictions that will privatize a number of good-paying public sector jobs and restrict workers ability to negotiate for safe workplace conditions and fair wages.

“This budget hurts our local communities and makes it harder for our hard-working middle-class families to get ahead. We expect our state budget to strengthen families while rewarding hard work to grow our economy in the long run. This budget falls short and it leaves workers behind,” said Antonio.

In addition restricting workers’ right to collectively bargain, the budget also will eliminate women’s access to critical healthcare. Provisions added to the budget will shutter the three remaining abortion clinics in Western Ohio, putting the health of millions of Ohio women at risk. Although women’s right to privacy and their right to make their own healthcare decisions have been upheld by the Supreme Court for over forty years, Republican legislators refuse to respect the law.  

Throughout the budget process, Democrats both in the House and Senate offered dozens of amendments to remove partisan attacks and shift legislative priorities toward public policies that benefit the middle class. Time after time, Republican leaders dismissed Democratic amendments.

With the bill’s passage, it now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature before July 1.

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The lead Democrat on the Ohio House’s Health Committee, Democratic Whip and state Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), today responded to the latest dire report on Ohio’s statewide opioid overdose and addiction emergency.

The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences released the report “Taking Measure of Ohio’s Opioid Crisis” Tuesday, highlighting the grim realities many in the state are experiencing, but also making a case for greater treatment access and expanded educational and economic opportunities for Ohioans.

“This report confirms that treatment is necessary to stem the tide of this opioid crisis, and clearly we do not have enough treatment options currently available,” said Antonio. “We can do better. We must do better. Taxpayers deserve better economic opportunities, a strong and affordable educational foundation, and greater access to healthcare services – all things that we know will prevent opioid addiction and abuse.”

The report points to low education levels and limited job opportunities as central underlying causes of opioid abuse.