“The main reason I voted yes on HB 110 was because of the historic fair school funding plan, HB 1, the Cupp-Patterson Plan, which made it into the budget. There are other provisions I appreciated in HB 110, but if HB 1 had not made it into the bill, I would have voted no. The tax giveaways to Ohio’s wealthiest is coming at a time when they were the least impacted by the pandemic. That revenue should be going to struggling Ohioans,” said Rep. Robinson. “The budget is a process and the House vote is one of many steps, and we still have a long way to go. In its current form, this budget is a missed opportunity to invest in Ohio’s future. However, there is still time for HB 110 to move Ohio significantly in the right direction to address the needs of working people and families. As HB 110 continues in the process, I will be advocating for needed changes.”
Key highlights of the fair school funding plan include:
- Uses improved, variable per-pupil formula that factors in each schools’ unique situation and community for base cost, state and local share, and categorical aid funding. Some factors include:
- Student-teacher ratios and school staff size;
- Career readiness, STEM, technical, gifted, and special education;
- School staff salaries and professional development;
- Residents’ wealth and poverty levels;
- Student’s social and emotional needs;
- English language learners;
- Preschool services
- Ends the bad practice of public school districts’ budgets funding private school vouchers like EdChoice, by instead having the state fund them directly, no longer pitting schools against each other.
- $193.7 million in supplemental aide for 6-year phase-in plan that guarantees that public school funding in fiscal year (FY) 2022 and FY 2023 does not fall below current funding levels.
- Over 55% increased funding for disadvantaged students.
- $45 million per year for replacing the oldest and highest mileage school buses in the state.
Some other provisions of HB 110 Rep. Robinson was glad to see included:
- Moratorium on new school takeovers by academic distress commissions (ADCs);
- $5.4 million increase in funding for school auxiliary services;
- $500,000 for non-profit organizations to create business development and employment opportunities targeted to low and moderate income people;
- $10 million for grants to small fire departments for equipment and training, as well as grants to enhance local emergency communication networks;
- $10 million for grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to implement or enhance body-worn camera programs;
- Appropriates $155 million in COVID-19 relief aid for businesses;
- $200 million for expanding broadband at in-need areas.
However, Rep. Robinson and Democrats noted that the Republican-backed $380 million tax giveaway that largely benefits the wealthiest Ohioans could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan.
Democrats offered a number of amendments on the House floor Wednesday that Rep. Robinson supported, including measures that would:
- Put more money back in the pockets of working people by making the earned income tax credit partially refundable and investing in local governments and public libraries;
- Increase access to publicly funded childcare to allow more Ohioans to get back to work;
- Prioritize coronavirus relief, including investments in public health, rental assistance and waiving unemployment benefit overpayments made to Ohioans during the pandemic;
- Restore Republican cuts to H2Ohio funding to invest in clean water infrastructure;
- Raise wages for home health care workers and allow them to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits;
- Invest in programs to make college more affordable to lower-income Ohioans;
- Invest in maternal health and morbidity data reporting to improve health outcomes;
- Increase funding for AIDS prevention services at Ohio Planned Parenthood and removes funding from crisis pregnancy centers.
Republicans rejected each amendment.
After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.