State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Ohio House Democratic Caucus members stood in opposition to House Bill 64, the state’s two-year budget bill. Democratic legislators voted against the measure, which they say lacks a comprehensive vision and offers little for hardworking Ohioans to get ahead. Instead, Democrats argue the bill advances policies that rig the tax system to help the richest one-percent and special interests, such as charter schools, big utility companies and oil and gas companies, in addition to partisan attacks on working Ohioans and women’s reproductive rights.
House Democrats expressed disappointment in the latest iteration of an untargeted tax package that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest few Ohioans. Despite a number of tax cuts since 2005, Ohio remains one of the last states yet to recover jobs lost during the Great Recession.
Without any accountability or transparency measures, an historic amount of tax dollars, to the tune of $1 billion, will flow to the state’s charter schools, many of which continue to underperform compared to their chronically underfunded public school counterparts. Online charter schools also receive an extra $25 per student for building costs, even though online schools lack brick and mortar facilities.
“This budget does not reflect the governor’s promise to address the woeful shortcomings of Ohio’s failing charter schools. Instead these schools are receiving funds that could be used to strengthen the hardworking families in this state that are struggling to get by under the current administration,” said Johnson.
Republican lawmakers also added a provision stripping collective bargaining rights from home healthcare workers in addition to other anti-worker restrictions, which privatize a number of good-paying public sector jobs and restrict workers ability to negotiate for better workplace conditions.
Rep. Johnson also expressed disappointment in provisions relating to women’s reproductive rights: “The budget’s targeted regulation of abortion providers and additional restrictions limiting access to a safe and legal abortion show lawmakers’ distrust in Ohio’s women and healthcare professionals to make informed decisions about their own body.”
Throughout the budget process, Democrats offered amendments to remove partisan attacks and shift legislative priorities toward growing the economy though community and education investments and targeted tax reductions for the majority of Ohioans—something Democratic representatives say strengthen middle class families and attract businesses. Time after time, Republican leaders dismissed Democratic amendments.
With the bill’s passage, it now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature before July 1.