Before state lawmakers head into conference committee to hammer out the final details of the state biennial budget, House Democratic leaders today questioned whether the legislation adequately addresses the state’s current fiscal crisis that has left Ohio families struggling to make ends meet and communities underwater.
“The Ohio GOP’s misguided tax policy has not created the economic stability, better-paying jobs or real growth that was promised. While the rest of the nation is recovering from the Great Recession, Ohio has been held back,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “After six years of being wrong – wrong about a tax policy that favors the wealthy over the middle class, wrong about state revenue numbers for 10 out of 11 months, wrong even about how much needs to be cut to balance the budget – I have no doubt that the same failed approach based on ideology instead of facts will only do more harm to working Ohio families and send our economy deeper into a tailspin.”
Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 54 consecutive months, Ohio families bring home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, and close to 30 percent of Ohio jobs are low wage, paying less than poverty wages.
“The budget isn’t real until it’s a fact-based plan that sets priorities and delivers results. This budget is just more of the same that has been holding Ohio back,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “The fact is: when we hit bottom, you don’t keep digging. Passing a fake budget built on empty promises will only push Ohio into a recession.”
The current version of the state budget bill, House Bill 49, restricts access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Ohioans, takes more money away from local communities and maintains a tax loophole for lobbyists and lawyers that leaves the state with $1 billion less to address serious challenges like the statewide opioid epidemic.
“The question we have to ask is how bad does it have to get before we change course? The statewide opioid crisis is claiming so many lives every day that we literally don’t have a place to put all the bodies,” said Minority Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “Republicans sticking their heads in the sand and denying there’s a fundamental problem won’t turn our economy around or create new, better-paying jobs. We will be back here in the fall when the state and taxpayers are faced with even bigger problems.”
Conference committee is expected to meet Monday before the final report on the budget is considered by the full legislature early next week. The Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Kasich must approve a balanced budget by June 30 to avoid government shutdown.