COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) voted in favor of Substitute House Bill (HB) 169 to appropriate $4.18 billion to support education, expand access to childcare and improve public health, among other investments in Ohio’s working people, families and communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is funded through several federal COVID-19 relief packages, the majority of which comes from the American Rescue Plan Act backed by Democrats and signed into law by President Biden earlier this year.
Hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to Ohio under the American Rescue Plan were at risk of expiring had the General Assembly not taken legislative action on the funds this month.
“I am disappointed that included in this otherwise commonsense legislation, the Senate Majority has endeavored to eliminate the Step Up To Quality rating system. This idea was defeated during the budget negotiations earlier this year, which instead established a Study Committee to review and improve Step Up To Quality, of which I am a member. I hope that Governor DeWine will line item veto this provision,” said Rep. Lightbody.
“Otherwise, this is worthwhile legislation which will provide billions of dollars in much-needed funding to our schools, healthcare providers, and local governments.”
Sub. HB 169 includes:
- $2.48 billion for K-12 schools;
- $1.05 billion to help health care providers hire and retain employees;
- $639 million in supplemental child care grants to enhance the hiring and retention of staff and improve access to child care;
- $250 million in grants for law enforcement agencies;
- $91.1 million for the Department of Health to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and address other public health priorities;
- $7.3 million to prevent youth homelessness.
The American Rescue Plan is landmark legislation for the Biden administration and advances many long-held Democratic priorities, including investments in working people, families and communities as Ohio and the nation continue to build back amid the COVID-19 pandemic after decades of failing to invest in families and communities.
The Plan will lower health insurance premiums, extend tax credits to families with children and invest in jobs. The American Rescue Plan is widely regarded as one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in history, with targeted aid to families making less than $90,000 annually. No Republican members of Congress voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan.
Substitute HB 169 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. Following the vote, the House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine urging a line-item veto of the provision suspending the Step Up to Quality Program through December 31, 2022 which says the provision is “ineffective policy opposed by advocates and a detriment to the use of taxpayer dollars to provide quality early childhood education to all Ohio children.”