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Brent: Democratic priorities shape budget as bill clears Ohio House

Bill includes tax cut for working people and families
May 9, 2019
Juanita O. Brent News

House Democratic lawmakers today voted in favor of the state budget, House Bill 166, which includes a number of key Democratic priorities, including a significant tax cut for working people and families.

“I am proud of our Democratic members and their work to make this budget a more realistic blueprint for our state’s future by including a number of our key priorities,” said Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Democrats were able to deliver real results for taxpayers by closing some costly tax loopholes and passing a working families tax cut, which will put money back in the pockets of everyday Ohioans. We kept our promise to the taxpayers of Ohio—we work for you.”

The budget includes historic tax cuts for working people and families, reducing the middle two income tax brackets and eliminating the bottom two altogether.

“We have an obligation to taxpayers to pass a fiscally responsible budget, and Democratic changes made this a balanced plan that invests in our future,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the lead Democrat on the House budget panel. “Democrats were able to move this budget in the right direction to benefit small businesses, working people and families.”

Long-held Democratic priorities of closing tax loopholes, like lowering the LLC loophole threshold from $250,000 to $100,000 and eliminating the corporate jet timeshare exemption, also made it into the budget. In addition, lawmakers included a provision to level the playing field for Ohio small businesses by administering online-sales tax collection for large corporations.

Democrats fought to remove a controversial, GOP-backed provision to limit healthcare access for low-income Ohioans that would have charged monthly premiums for Medicaid coverage, a practice that would have jeopardized care for thousands of Ohioans.

“The budget is a promise for a better, more secure future, and the work we were able to do to invest in working people and communities is a step in the right direction,” said Assistant Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “Good government comes through compromise, and the only way we can keep our promise to taxpayers and restore the promise of better lives and brighter futures is by working together.”

Additional key Democratic amendments added to the budget include making college more affordable for low-income students by increasing funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant.

The bill also includes provisions outlined in recently-passed HB 154, which would end controversial state takeovers and restore control to local school districts.

A $32 million increase in home visitation funding to combat infant mortality and a minimum wage increase for direct service employees were also included.

“Improving access to healthcare and investing in children’s services, education and workers begins to restore Ohio’s promise as a place where people want to move again to find a good job, go to school and raise a family,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “This budget shows that Democrats are here, working together to deliver real results for Ohio taxpayers.”

The bipartisan bill passed the House and now heads to the state Senate for further consideration. 

Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying:

“In my first two terms, I voted no on the state budget because it took Ohio in the wrong direction. Today, I am happy to vote yes on the bipartisan FY 2020-2021 budget. This budget cuts taxes for those who need it the most, it takes steps to protect Lake Erie with sustained funds, it adds critical investment in higher education to make college more affordable, and it closes ineffective and expensive tax loopholes. This budget moves Ohio forward and that’s a great change.” –Minority Whip Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)

“Being a member of the finance committee, I was a part of the process where Democrats focused on having a budget that invests in working people and families versus the historic cuts to local communities that has been occurring over the past decade. While this budget is not perfect, it shows real promise that we are working together to deliver real results for all Ohioans, not just a select few.” –Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)

“I campaigned as a champion of the environment for Ohio families. So I’m proud of the historic investment we are making in water quality in this budget.” –Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson)

“Throughout my campaign I promised that I would work along with my colleagues in the House to improve access to quality education, affordable health care, and jobs.  The budget we passed today includes many key Democratic priorities, including lower state income taxes for those who earn the least, better jobs, stronger schools, more support for pre-schools, and healthier Ohioans. There is more work to be done, but our voices are being heard and progress is being made.” –Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)

“This budget pairs tax cuts for working families with common sense tax loophole closures. Although there is still work to be done, I am proud of my Democratic colleagues who fought for this course correction to deliver results for people in Ohio.” –Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin)

“While real progress was made in this budget, the reality is that it doesn’t go far enough to make up for a decade of Republican budget cuts and tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations. But restoring some tax fairness by walking back a tax system rigged against working people puts money back in the pockets of everyday Ohioans, giving them more opportunity for a better life.” –Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati)

“A wise man once told me that ‘the state budget process was a process of allocating pain.’ So I went in ready for the reality. While real progress was made in this budget, the reality is that it doesn’t go far enough to make up for a decade of Republican budget cuts and tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations. We have an immense amount of work to do to restore the promise made to Ohioans—that you can work hard and get ahead. I will continue to fight for the hard working families while ensuring the backbone of our economy, small business owners, continue to thrive.” –Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park)

"This budget is the embodiment of the bipartisan coalition we forged in the House earlier this year. Our coalition stands as a model of what government should and can be –a cooperative collection of diverse views that finds common ground and holds itself accountable to the people we represent." –Rep. David Leland (D-Cincinnati)

“We spent long hours in and out of Finance Committee to produce a budget that is balanced and benefits all Ohioans. The additional funding to reduce infant mortality, funding for domestic violence programs, and the creation of the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Board are necessary additions to ensure men, women, and families have the resources to thrive and not just survive. As we move forward in the General Assembly, I hope we continue to have conversations around the issues brought to light during the budget process and implement effective legislation.” –Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus)

“Government needs to keep its promise to all Ohioans by facilitating their ability to get ahead.  Our job with the budget is to help increase the quality of lives for our constituents.” –Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron)

“If I were a member of the Republican Caucus, I’d thank the Democrats for offering amendments to the budget that help Ohioans, and for fighting harmful amendments that their members offered so that their members could stand up on the House floor today and speak positively about a budget bill that includes middle and lower income tax cuts, the creation of the Pregnancy Mortality Review Board, and more support for children in foster care. As a Democrat, I’d like to thank my colleagues, our staff and our leadership for all of their diligence, as we worked together to restore the Ohio Promise throughout the budget, and finally begin to move legislative investments in the right direction.” –Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights)

“Our Democratic members have fought tirelessly to strengthen this budget and renew Ohio’s promise as an opportunity state. While there are still areas that need improvement, it includes key provisions that invest in the children of our state and their education. That starts with ending the disastrous state takeovers of public schools that have wreaked havoc in places like Lorain. The ideas we brought forward with HB 154 have been incorporated, restoring local control over schools and putting in place a process for bottom up, building-based school improvement.” –Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst)

“Today’s budget vote was a step in the right direction especially for education and foster care but we still have a long way to go. I look forward to having those continual conservations regarding the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan and other issues. It is my hope we continue to improve our laws to help spread the Ohio Promise for everyone.” –Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)

“This budget is about putting people first. I was happy to see a pay increase for direct service providers serving our most vulnerable individuals, more transparency in drug pricing, and tax relief for working families. Although we have invested in increased services to children and families, there are still significant barriers to access services looming. When we work together, we can achieve real results for Ohioans. ”—Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)

“The passing of the Operating Budget moves us one step closer to fulfilling Ohio’s Promise to the people of Ohio. We removed the academic distress commission to increase the local voice in our school districts. To ensure Ohio has more healthy babies make it past their first birthday, we added $2M to reduce infant mortality and we developed a Pregnancy Association Mortality Review Board to make sure the mothers concerns are addressed first. Also, we ensured affordability of a college degree by freezing tuition cost to incoming freshman. We doubled the amount of funding for foster care to support our children and those that take care of them. Provided the biggest tax break to those in the bottom three tax brackets ($22,250 or less from tax) to help boost the economy and lowered the business income tax deductions to $100,000 (from $250,000). This is how we help keep Ohio’s Promise!” –Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland)