House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) was joined by Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) on Tuesday evening to kick off the Ohio Promise Town Hall Tour, a statewide legislative town hall series hosted by House and Senate Democratic members. The purpose of the tour is to hear from constituents in their districts about their most pressing concerns, answer questions, and discuss the state budget, bipartisan priorities and a number of recent Democratic-led, legislative wins for working people and families.
“We had a great turnout in my hometown of Akron at the very first Ohio Promise tour stop and I was thrilled to have such an engaged audience there to ask thoughtful, important questions of their lawmakers,” said Leader Sykes. “The Ohio Promise is a bold blueprint for Ohio’s future with dozens of proposals to grow our economy and give Ohioans who work hard the opportunity to get ahead, but we are constantly seeking public input to ensure our plan is indeed the people’s plan. There is so much more work to do to renew Ohio’s promise and build opportunity for working people and families across the state and these town halls are an opportunity for us to learn from our constituents and then return to Columbus to find solutions.”
Leader Sykes kicked off the event with a legislative update, discussing the recently-passed state budget that increases funding for maternal and prenatal health services, invests in our children’s future and protects healthcare for millions of families across the state. The event included an hour-long open forum to allow constituents to ask questions and identify community concerns that can be addressed through state government. Audience members in Akron wanted to know about many topics, including the recent Amazon announcement, infant mortality and black maternal health, Medicaid enrollment, and the working relationship between House Democrats and Republican Speaker of the House Larry Householder.
The recently passed state budget was also a major topic of conversation as House and Senate Democrats detailed the process itself as well as the number of state budget provisions they fought for that seek to strengthen local communities and put people first.
Some notable Democratic budget wins for Summit County include:
- Increased funds for public colleges and universities, including the University of Akron.
- Millions of additional dollars for grant programs to make college more affordable for low-income students.
- $125,000 to fund co-op programs at the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
- Increased funding for the Akron-Summit Public Library.
- Local Government Fund increases, which directs millions more dollars to cities like Akron.
- Created Food Farmacy program to provide comprehensive support for food insecure Ohioans.
- $600,000 for the “Finding my Childhood Again” program and an additional $100,000 for the Market Street Kitchen at the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina counties.
- Invests in the Drug Abuse Response Team Grant Program to expand successful programs like the Summit County Quick Response Team to combat the opioid crisis.
- Enacts cost-savings measures at the Summit County Court of Common Pleas juvenile and domestic relations division to reflect recent child support and custody changes under Ohio law.
The next Ohio Promise Town Hall Tour stop will be (tomorrow) Thursday, August 1 with Rep. Thomas West at Canton City Hall, First Floor, 218 Cleveland Ave SW, Canton, OH, at 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Leader Sykes will host another town hall in Akron on August 20. For a full list of Ohio Promise tour stops and details, visit www.ohiohousedemocrats.org.
Leader Sykes represents Ohio’s 34th House District, which includes North and West Akron, parts of East and South Akron and sections of Cuyahoga Falls and Bath Township.