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Rep. Robinson: Budget a mixed bag, but delivers wins for working people

Bill contains fair school funding overhaul, historic investment in broadband
June 30, 2021
Phillip M. Robinson, Jr. News

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) issued a statement following the passage of the state operating budget, House Bill (HB) 110, which included the Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP), an improved public school funding formula that better addresses the needs of Ohio students, teachers, and communities, as well as $250 million for broadband development in underserved areas.

“While there are several provisions of the budget I am calling on Governor DeWine to veto, I voted for this budget because of the historic creation of constitutional fair school funding to address the DeRolph cases, broadband expansion, and other key provisions that will help Ohioans,” said Rep. Robinson. “The FSFP provides an additional $1.99 billion in school funding over six years, addresses equity in the formula to prioritize students in the most need of support, and brings local relief that will reduce the need for levies on property taxes. As long as we can stay committed to the FSFP during the six-year phase-in, Ohio will finally have constitutional and fair funding for our children’s education.”

Highlights of provisions of the FSFP in the budget include:

·         Individual formula for each school’s needs, with a variable per-pupil base cost that factors each school’s unique situation and student needs;

·         Community relief by reducing the need for local levies through fair distribution of state and local share of the funding, based on both the community’s property values and residents’ income;

·         Additional program funding and support for poverty, preschools, gifted and special education, English Learners, career tech education, STEM, and open enrollment;

·         Ends the bad practice of public school districts’ budgets funding private school vouchers such as EdChoice. Instead the state will fund vouchers directly, no longer pitting schools against each other;

·         Over 55% increased funding for disadvantaged students, requiring schools to develop plans to use the funds;

·         School transportation has its own separate formula, plus an additional $50 million per year for replacing the oldest and highest mileage school buses in the state. 

HB 110 funds the first two years of the FSFP six-year phase in-plan, which the state legislature will have to pass again in the next two General Assemblies to fully implement the plan.

District 6 school districts (SD) will have an estimated fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding of:

·         Bedford City – $8,022,650; a 22.7% increase from FY 2021

·         Brecksville-Broadview Hts City – $4,431,927 – a 10.2% increase from FY 2021;

·         Chagrin Falls Ex Village – $1,862,672 – a 5.9% increase from FY 2021;

·         Cuyahoga Hts Local – $633,934 – an 11.3% increase from FY 2021;

·         Independence Local – $704,781 – an 18.5% increase from FY 2021;

·         Mayfield City – $2,584,186 – a 24% increase from FY 2021;

·         North Royalton City – $5,368,628 – a 9.3% increase from FY 2021;

·         Orange City – $1,418,956 – a 5.9% increase from FY 2021;

·         Parma City – $20,276,099 – a 1.5% increase from FY 2021;

·         Solon City – $3,497,246 – a 7.1% increase from FY 2021;

·         South Euclid-Lyndhurst City – $6,092,047 – a 5.2% increase from FY 2021;

·         District 6 Total – $54,893,125 – a 7.9% increase from FY 2021;

·         State of Ohio Total – over $7.5 billion – a 2.8% increase from FY 2021

If the state legislature fully phases in the FSFP in future General Assemblies, District 6 school districts will continue to see increased funding each fiscal year. Fully phased in using current data, in a typical year, District 6’s 11 school districts collectively will receive an estimated $70 million each year, a 37.7% increase from FY 2021.

Some of the other positive provisions in the budget include:

·         $250 million for broadband development in underserved areas;

·         One-year moratorium on new Academic Distress Commissions (ADCs) and creation of a new process for current schools districts under ADCs to end their state takeover;

·         $150 million for building demolition and site revitalization;

·         $350 million for the Brownfield Remediation Program, that provides grants and technical assistance to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties;

·         Expands Medicaid postpartum coverage to a year beyond the current 60 days;

·         Creation of Maternal Mortality Awareness Month and Postpartum Cardiomyopathy Awareness;

·         Increases publicly funded child care initial eligibility from 130% to 142% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) for all families and 150% of FPL for families with children with disabilities;

·         Help Me Grow, a parent support program that encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, can now serve kids until five years of age instead of three;

·         Allows any student athlete enrolled in Ohio colleges and universities to earn compensation from their name, image and likeness (NIL);

·         Established Juneteenth as a legal holiday in compliance with federal law;

·         Increases public library funding and the Public Defender’s State Legal Defense Services funds;

·         Extends by two years the deadline for owners of a qualified renewable energy project (wind farm, solar project, etc.) to apply for a property tax exemption;

Democrats did express opposition Monday to a tax giveaway of over $1.8 billion through the biennium that largely benefits the wealthiest Ohioans, an unnecessary increase in funding for the state’s EdChoice Voucher Program, and other concerning provisions. 

Rep. Robinson and House Democrats sent the governor a list of requested budget line-item vetoes to address a number of their concerns.