COLUMBUS – Ohio House Democrats today unanimously voted to not concur with the extreme and out of touch version of the state budget recently passed by the Ohio Senate. Instead of creating a fair, transparent budget that works for all Ohioans, the two-year budget bill is a cruel piece of legislation that cuts taxes for the wealthy and would punish the most vulnerable in our state by taking billions away from those who need it– our children, families, public schools, teachers, and working parents.
“From education and workforce development to childcare and healthcare, the House budget that passed in April, moved Ohio forward. We crafted a bipartisan budget that would put people first and improve the lives of Ohioans. The Senate’s version of the budget causes irreversible damage to the state as it takes away vital resources from our most vulnerable communities,” said Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “As House Democrats push through Conference Committee, we will continue to advocate for all Ohioans, ensuring a better tomorrow that offers economic opportunities for all, no matter who you are or where you come from. Every Ohioan deserves the freedom, dignity, and opportunity to thrive.”
Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake), Ranking Member of the Ohio House Finance Committee, will be appointed to the Conference Committee, where both the House and Senate will get a chance to rectify the differences between the two budgets.
“I am greatly disappointed by the Senate’s self-absorbed budget which disproportionately favors the wealthiest Ohioans, cuts funding to vital programs, and undoes much of the accomplishments achieved in the House budget,” said Rep. Sweeney. “We will be hard at work during Conference Committee to create a state operating budget that puts people first and creates an Ohio that works for all of us, not just special interest groups and the one percent. We are focused on returning funding to food banks, increased teacher wages, affordable housing, childcare, and ensuring our public schools are fully and fairly funded.”
The Senate’s operating budget expanded a voucher system that lacks accountability, slashed funding for social services, and cut taxes to the benefit of Ohio’s wealthiest residents. Additionally, it contained a number of harmful policy provisions, including:
- Senate Bill 1, which would transfer almost all the powers of the state Board of Education, comprised primarily of elected members, to a new executive agency;
- Senate Bills 83 and 117, which would dictate what may be taught in Ohio’s institutions of higher education and infringe on the collective bargaining rights of their faculty; and
- Senate Bill 21, which would allow the Senate President and House Speaker to hire outside legal counsel for whatever reason at any cost.
HB 33 contains a number of problematic provisions including:
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
Expands School Vouchers
- Makes school vouchers universal, costing taxpayers over $1 billion per year while robbing funding from public schools.
Decreased Funding for Public Schools
- Decreased funding for public schools by $245.6 million in FY 24 and $295.8 million in FY 25.
- Removed provision that would increase the base teacher salary 33% from $30k to $40k.
- Eliminates making school meals free for students who currently qualify for reduced priced breakfast or lunch.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
- Cuts initial eligibility for publicly-funded childcare from 160% FPL, as proposed by the governor and House, to 145%.
- Expands exemption to Step Up to Quality, Ohio's quality rating system for child care programs, reducing it to $13 million a year from the House’s $20 million.
- Cut $15 million dollars over the biennium in grants for child care infrastructure.
Cuts to Infant and Maternal Health
- Remove the Medicaid expansion for kids/pregnant women under 300% of the federal poverty level and for children adopted through private agencies.
- Removes Medicaid coverage of doula services.
- Removes Medicaid continuous enrollment for children from birth through age 3.
- Reduces investment to the Healthy Beginnings at Home program which supports safe housing for pregnant women, Infant Vitality grants, Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Mental Health and more.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Reduces and eliminates funding to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, including additional cuts to:
- Ohio Children's Trust Fund
- United Way
- Bethany House
- Ohio Commission on Fatherhood
- Birthing Beautiful Communities
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.
- Ohio Council of YWCAs
- Shoes and Clothes for Kids
- Ohio YMCA day camps and before and after school programs.
- Foundry Row, Sail, Dream Program
Food Bank Funding
- Removes $15 million/FY of critical funding for our food banks.
AGRICULTURE, DEVELOPMENT, AND NATURAL RESOURCES
- $37.2 million decrease for H2Ohio, the state’s leading program in improving water quality.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- Flattens Ohio's income tax bracket, disproportionally favoring special interest while doing very little to help working and middle class families.
- Flattening Ohio’s tax brackets will cost the state about $1 billion a year, restricting the state’s ability to support working class Ohioans.
Cuts to Affordable Housing
- Transfers the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to the Dept. of Development, gutting the agency and eliminating the long tradition of its independence.
- Attacks local governments’ ability to operate rental registries by prohibiting the use of state dollars or fees on residents.
- Authorizes the state Auditor to audit any housing projects that have received federal subsidies or tax credits to construct or renovate rental housing.
- Expands prohibition on the use of multiple housing tax credits and threatens the viability of workforce housing by altering property valuation.
Alternatively, the Democratic Caucus supported an Operating Budget that put people first, including provisions such as:
- Raising wages for direct care service providers to $18/hr by 2025.
- $400 million in funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG).
- The full implementation of the Fair School Funding Plan using 2022 data.
- Establishing statewide children’s vision initiative.
- Establishing the Ohio Wayside Detector Expansion Program.
The operating budget now heads to Conference Committee, which will hold its first hearing tomorrow, June 22nd at 9:00am in Room 313 of the Ohio Statehouse.