On Friday, State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Ohio House Democratic Caucus members 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 comprehensive vision and offers little for hardworking Ohioans to get ahead. Instead, Democrats argue the bill advances policies that rig the tax system to help the richest one-percent and special interests, such as charter schools, big utility companies and oil and gas companies, in addition to partisan attacks on working Ohioans.
House Democrats expressed disappointment in the latest iteration of an untargeted tax package that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest few Ohioans. Despite a number tax cuts since 2005, Ohio remains one of the last states yet to recover jobs lost during the Great Recession.
Without any accountability or transparency measures, an historic amount of tax dollars, to the tune of $1 billion, will flow to the state’s charter schools, many of which continue to underperform compared to their chronically underfunded public school counterparts. Online charter schools also receive an extra $25 per student for building costs, even though online schools lack brick and mortar facilities.
“I am very pleased to see that the final budget reflects my efforts to save the Youngstown Developmental Center,” said Lepore-Hagan. “I was able to work in a bi-partisan fashion on a budget amendment that will keep the Youngstown and Montgomery Developmental Centers open. The YDC is a vital resource for our community and I am glad that it will continue to support residents, workers, and families of the Mahoning Valley. However, I cannot support a budget that, as a whole, panders to special interests at the expense of working class Ohioans.”
Republican lawmakers also added a provision stripping collective bargaining rights from home healthcare workers in addition to other anti-worker restrictions, which privatize a number of good-paying public sector jobs and restrict workers ability to negotiate for better workplace conditions.
Throughout the budget process, Democrats offered amendments to remove partisan attacks and shift legislative priorities toward growing the economy though community and education investments and targeted tax reductions for the majority of Ohioans—something Democratic representatives say strengthen middle class families and attract businesses. Time after time, Republican leaders dismissed Democratic amendments.
Rep. Lepore-Hagan continued, “Our priorities should focus on building and strengthening the middle class while fighting for our children’s futures, rather than attacking our schools, attacking worker’s rights, restricting women’s access to healthcare and looking out for the wealthiest few.”
With the bill’s passage, it now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature before July 1.