House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement on House Democratic budget priorities for the 134th General Assembly, which include coronavirus relief, healthcare modernization and education funding. The governor released his initial plan Monday.
“Budgets show our citizens our values. In this time of incredible uncertainty, we need to make clear our values—that Ohio’s promise is opportunity, the chance at a better life, a better job and a brighter future. House Democrats are committed to restoring that promise, and that begins with a fiscally sound blueprint for our future.
“We’re prioritizing coronavirus relief for families and businesses; investments in the health, safety and security of our fellow Ohioans like modernizing our outdated public health system and social safety nets; and fully and fairly funding our public schools so that every child has the opportunity to realize their full potential.
“Ohio’s working families, small businesses, schools and local governments are counting on us to get this right. Now, we have a partner at the federal level in the Biden administration that is committing to push for more aid to ensure this budget is balanced so that we can make the critical investments we need to get Ohio on the right track. We look forward to digging into the details of the governor’s proposal to see how it makes sense long-term without one time money and that it delivers on the promise of opportunity for all Ohioans.”
Democrats identified the following budget priorities:
· Invest in a comprehensive coronavirus relief plan, including resources for ODH to combat the virus, administer vaccines and protect frontline workers;
· Modernize Ohio’s outdated public health system and social safety nets to better respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, ensure Ohio is prepared to take on future health and economic crises, including building a new unemployment compensation system;
· Maintain Medicaid access and services to all eligible Ohioans;
· Fully and fairly fund the state’s public school systems;
· Continue to fund critical school wraparound services to ensure all Ohio students succeed;
· Expand access to early childhood education opportunities and job training for Ohio workers;
· Invest in ways to ensure more Ohioans graduate on time and with less debt, including stable Ohio College Opportunity Grant funding;
· Protect Ohio waterways and our environment, and improve water quality, including investments in H2Ohio;
· Continue all planned highway maintenance, preservation and safety initiatives;
· Fix Ohio tax law to restore fairness for low and middle income families, and award tax incentives to Ohio small businesses that create jobs;
· Expand broadband access to underserved areas of the state.
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, state officials have been monitoring revenue numbers closely. GRF revenues were down 10 percent for the month of December. The governor recently announced a revised $390 million cut for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year.
House Democratic leaders today also expressed a willingness to tap into Ohio’s $2.7 billion rainy day fund to shore up essential services during the pandemic. To date, the governor has declined to do so.