Senate version of Ohio budget kills fair school funding plan; 5% tax cut will help only the wealthy and takes away vital funds for children, broadband, health

The Ohio Senate could vote as soon as tomorrow to pass its version of the state biennial budget (Substitute SB 110) with significant changes from the House-passed version.  These include:

• Throws out the fair funding plan for Ohio’s public schools that was developed through three years of discussion by a broad, nonpartisan group of parents, community leaders, and educators, and passed with bipartisan support twice in the House, and replaces it with a plan that prioritizes and expands vouchers and charters.
• Eliminates the $190 million in House funding for broadband expansion in the House version.
• The Senate bill throws out two years of work by Ohio Medicaid, drawing on extensive public input, that will improve accountability and service delivery, especially for children with complex needs.
• a 5% income tax cut which goes primarily to the wealthy.

Call to action

The Senate is expected to pass its version of the budget on Thursday, June 10. Call your Senator https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/district-map and Ohio Senate President at 614-466-7584 to express your views.

This writer feels that the Senate budget is profoundly unfair to Ohio’s children and to the work citizens have done over the past three years to improve schools and Medicaid service delivery by managed care plans.

Our diocese serves children in urban, rural, and suburban districts: all deserve excellent public education. The House passed School Funding Plan has broad support including from the Ohio Council of Churches.  It goes a long way to resolving the chronic injustice in state allocation of school funding which the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled unconstitutional.  The Senate plan eliminates preschool standards (Step Up to Quality) and makes a meager improvement in eligibility for child care subsidies, when the cost of child care is crippling for low-wage families. The Senate sets an eligibility limit of 142% of the federal poverty level, when nonprofit advocates like the Hunger Network in Ohio have asked for 200% to be the cutoff.  This kind of “poverty cliff” keeps working parents in poverty level jobs because they literally cannot afford to work for more if they lose the child care subsidy.

The money lost in the Senate’s $874 million tax cut would be enough to cover many vital investments in children in the House version, including the House school funding plan, the broadband expansion (remember the appalling digital divide laid bare by the pandemic?), and better Medicaid services.   Here is an overview of the implications of the Senate budget from economist Wendy Patton of Policy Matters Ohio:  https://www.policymattersohio.org/blog/2021/06/02/senate-budget-doubles-down-on-trickle-down

The Senate’s 5% income tax cut will do no good to Ohio’s poorest citizens, save the middle 20% only $22 a year, while those in the top 1% will see an average of $1,712 in tax cuts which I believe most will not even notice. The State Legislature has repeatedly cut income taxes over the past 15 years, leading to cuts in funding for counties and forcing local voters to increase sales and property taxes, which disproportionately burden the poor and elderly people on fixed income. (learn more at https://www.policymattersohio.org/research-policy/quality-ohio/revenue-budget/tax-policy/senate-tax-cuts-would-go-mostly-to-the-affluent)


Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.