State Rep. Ramos (D-Lorain) on Wednesday voted in opposition to part of the state’s mid-biennium review, House Bill 483. Democrats highlighted that, although the original intent of the MBR should have been to fix mistakes in last year’s state budget, the bill had turned into a thinly-veiled attempt by the GOP to abolish state protections against pay-to-play in state government.
Democrats pushed to remove language that dismantles campaign finance rules that restrict pay-to-play donations for state contracts. Under the GOP’s proposal, foreign and non-foreign corporations could legally dump unlimited money into political campaigns supporting the same officials who directed resources to the company.
“The budget is supposed to be a moral document. Unfortunately, there is nothing moral about what passed today,” said Rep. Ramos. “What the House Republicans passed was legislation that further empowers corporate political contributions, blatantly ignores hungry Ohioans desperate to find not only work, but their next meal and continues historic local government cuts that have crippled our communities.”
In essence, Republican officials who decide what companies get taxpayer grants and incentives through JobsOhio would now have the ability to be rewarded by those companies with few restrictions. Ultimately, the Democratic amendment was tabled on party lines.
Faced with the potential for greater pay-to-play donations in politics, Democrats renewed their call for transparency and accountability at JobsOhio through a series of amendments that would:
-Disclose corporate donations coming in to JobsOhio.
-Report financial assistance to businesses and corporate donations online.
-Require a public audit of JobsOhio.
-Create an independent inspector general and whistleblower protections for employees.
Those amendments were also tabled on party lines.
House Democrats also offered multiple amendments to highlight community needs and fix mistakes in last year’s state budget. Among the amendments that were offered were the following:
-To call off Gov. Kasich’s unsafe restrictions on food access by restoring the SNAP waiver to individuals in all 88 Ohio counties and restore necessary nutrition assistance for more than 26,000 Ohioans.
-Invest $20 million in early childhood education, in part to make corrections to address the shortfalls created when the General Assembly and Governor underfunded the recently-passed Third Grade Guarantee.
Rep Ramos continued, “It is time we empower people to do better. This bill could have been a vehicle to enact sweeping reform to make families safer in their homes, educate the young, feed the hungry and reinvest swelling state surpluses in our people and the state to get Ohioans back to work. Until we accept our responsibility as legislators to serve all Ohioans, not just those with the deepest pockets, Ohio cannot and will not recover.”
All Democratic amendments were “tabled” by GOP members of the committee, so the proposals did not even receive formal consideration or debate.