State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) Wednesday voted yes on the finalized version of the state budget, House Bill (HB) 166. The vote follows more than two weeks of Republican dysfunction and gridlock, which forced lawmakers to pass a short-term funding extension before finally compromising on a long-term deal late Tuesday.
“This is a budget that will support and help improve our community’s public education, job and economic growth, local government resources, and provide more funds to programs that are crucial for Ohio,” said Rep. Robinson. “Although I had several issues with various provisions of the final budget, leadership requires compromise and bipartisanship in order to work.”
“Ohio’s stability was threatened when Republican leadership did not pass a budget before and I was not going to keep contributing to the uncertainty for many Ohioans,” added Rep. Robinson. “Ultimately, my issues with the bill did not outweigh the need for responsible leadership, making government work, and the many good provisions of the bill.”
Rep. Robinson was pleased to see the final version include:
- Increase in the Local Government Funds and making more funds available to smaller cities and villages throughout House District 6.
- Investing in education, with a 4.8 percent increase in funding for public school districts and more funding to wraparound services.
- Raising the base salary of teachers with bachelor’s degrees and the minimum wage for direct service employees.
- Making college more affordable by increasing funding for Ohio’s College Opportunity Grants for low-income students.
- Passing a tax cut targeting working people and middle class families.
- Passing a moratorium on Ohio’s failed state-takeovers of public schools.
- Increased funding for the Public Library Fund, Public Defenders, Rape Crisis Centers, and other great programs.
- Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Institute of Art each received $325,000 in each fiscal year.
- Expanded eligibility of the Motion Picture Tax Credit.
- The creation of the H2Ohio Fund with an $85.2 million appropriation to clean up Lake Erie and improve its environmental health for both families and industry.
- Improving access to healthcare and investing in children’s services, including millions of dollars in additional funding for the Kinship Care Navigators Program.
- Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
There are several provisions that Rep. Robinson opposed, which he sent a letter Wednesday night to Gov. DeWine, asking him to line-item veto those provisions. These include:
- Rolling back charter school oversight and accountability.
- Increased funding for controversial Ed Choice vouchers that hurt Ohio’s public schools.
- A provision that would have limited the ability of certain school districts to raise operating funds through local property taxes.
- Inclusion of additional funds for crisis pregnancy centers.
- The elimination of the Joint Education Oversight Committee, an important source of education research and data.
- Violations to local home rule like exempting supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) from municipal income taxation and changing how property tax election notices and ballot language will appear.
- Moving the 2020 Primary Election date to March 17, 2020 (St. Patrick’s Day), hindering people’s ability to vote, work and volunteer at the polls, and enjoy the holiday.
Rep. Robinson was glad to see the governor vetoed the limitation on school districts to raise operating funds through property taxes, the way property tax election notices and ballot language will appear, and the loosening of teacher licensing and certification, among other vetoes.
“This budget is certainly not what an Ohio promise budget would look like, however, Democrats moved parts of it in the right direction. We are committed to working together to get Ohio back on the right track and restore the promise of better lives, brighter futures, and an economy that works for everyone,” added Rep. Robinson.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.