As Ohio college students don their caps and gowns this month, many will leave school with mountains of debt for four-year degrees. In fact, Ohio families and students face the highest burden of student loan debt in the nation, with the Buckeye State ranking 45th nationally for college affordability. With college out of reach for too many families and students, state Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today introduced legislation to cover 90 percent of the cost for students to attend public college in Ohio. The Ohio Lets Everyone Achieve Right Now (LEARN) tax credit would make Ohio the first state to make college truly affordable for all students.
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation to support struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut the local government fund by forty-five percent. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions. These cuts have forced to communities to raise taxes, cut essential services, and delay needed repairs, just to keep their heads above water.
If passed, this legislation will allocate money from the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, to 26 communities on the Auditor of State Fiscal Distress List that received lower Local Government Fund (LGF) allocations than what they received in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced the Keep it Open, Keep It Honest Act, which would ensure transparency in Ohio’s state and congressional redistricting processes. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the new process for congressional redistricting in a statewide vote Tuesday. In 2015, the Buckeye State saw the same overwhelming voter approval for a new process for drawing state legislative districts.
“It’s exciting that Ohio will have a new redistricting process when we redraw the state and congressional lines in 2021. The commonsense provisions in the Keep It Open, Keep it Honest plan will help ensure that all steps of the map-drawing processes are transparent and open to the public,” said Rep. Clyde. “No part of our map drawing should happen behind closed doors – that is what led to Ohio having some of the most undemocratic, gerrymandered districts in the country. Ohio voters wanted to take special interests out of redistricting and that requires a strong commitment to transparency.”
Clyde’s bill would:
-Require regular public reports and the release of draft maps under negotiation in real time.
-Mandate regular public briefings and allowing for ongoing public input.
-Require public redistricting meetings with sufficient notice, and prohibit any secretive meeting process.
-Require that those involved, including private consultants, preserve all redistricting records and related communications.
-Allow the Ohio Attorney General's Office to quickly bring suspected violations before a court of law for judicial review.
According to a recent Brennan Center for Justice report, Ohio ranks among the worst states for gerrymandered congressional districts, a direct result of the Republican-led, closed-door redistricting process after the
State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today sent a letter asking Attorney General Mike DeWine to appoint special state prosecutor to determine the extent of criminal activities of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) publicized by Auditor Dave Yost in a stalled audit released today. The lawmakers are also asking that a special prosecutor determine whether state negligence contributed to additional taxpayer fraud, and whether or not state officials are liable for any additional fraud that developed as a result of their negligence or malfeasance.
State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and state Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville) today wrote a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to reconsider his administration’s move to shutter Cuyahoga County’s local Positive Education Program (PEP) Connections, a behavioral health program that serves some 500 high-risk youth each day.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced House Bill 637, the Ohio Future Voter Act, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Under the bill, pre-registered Ohioans would automatically be added to the state voter rolls before the next primary or general election in which they are eligible to vote.
Ahead of an anticipated May 16 vote to elect a new speaker of the Ohio House, two lawmakers are seeking answers as to why former Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned abruptly, amid reports of potential corruption. State Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and David Leland (D-Columbus) today asked the special agent in charge of the Cincinnati Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio to provide any or as much information as possible on any current or potential investigation of Rosenberger’s unprecedented resignation.
The Kasich Administration today filed a waiver request with the federal government, stemming from Republican attempts to undercut Ohio’s Medicaid expansion in the previous state budget. The administration says 36,036 Ohioans are in jeopardy of losing healthcare under the new restrictions, but the actual number of people impacted – if the waiver is approved – could be significantly higher if the economy slows down or more people have trouble finding work.
“Keeping people sick or taking away their health insurance won’t create more opportunity in our state or make our economy more competitive,” said state Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “This is nothing more than a punitive partisan, one-sided attempt to take away healthcare from people in need of temporary assistance. People want an opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families. Taking away healthcare is not the way to move Ohio forward, it is not a prescription for success”
The proposed restrictions would mean people who are sick, lack transportation, experience a family emergency or simply can’t find work would lose Medicaid coverage without notice if they do not work 80 hours in a given month.
A review of past work requirement proposals in entitlement programs found that these policies do not reduce poverty and often leave participants languishing in low-wage, temporary jobs.
Antonio is the minority leader for the House Health Committee and serves on the state’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee.
State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today celebrated 2018 National Small Business Week, which runs from April 29 – May 3. National Small Business Week annually recognizes entrepreneurship and celebrates small businesses across the United States. Events are celebrated locally in addition to a kick-off in the nation’s capital.
“Small Business Week is a time to celebrate locally owned businesses that are the backbone of our communities,” Sykes said. “Together we can grow small businesses through policies at the state level and offer support locally to new and longstanding businesses in Akron.”
Sykes is encouraging area small businesses or people looking to start one to look into the following state resources that can help them grow, create jobs and give back to the community:
-Ohio Department of Administrative Services: http://www.das.ohio.gov/for-Business-Public/for-the-Business-Community.
-JobsOhio Regional Network Contacts: https://jobs-ohio.com/jobsohio-network/.
-Secretary of the State Website for Client Service Center: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/businesses/.
Sykes, who serves as the House Minority Whip, represents Ohio’s 34th House district, which includes Akron and parts of Cuyahoga Falls and Bath Township.
State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today called on Ohio Auditor Dave Yost to recuse himself from all matters related to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) due to conflicts of interest and to refer potential data-rigging at ECOT for review by an independent criminal prosecutor.
“According to statements made by your office this week, you received a whistleblower tip in May 2017 detailing first-hand knowledge of potential criminal fraud at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). According to these same statements, your office did not immediately refer these allegations to a prosecutor or outside law enforcement agency,” Rep. Galonski wrote in a letter to Yost. “Your decisions may have jeopardized Ohio’s ability to get justice. Fraud investigations demand quick action to collect evidence.”
The letter came after news broke last week that Yost’s office met multiple times last year with a former ECOT technology employee who blew the whistle with allegations the e-charter intentionally manipulated student attendance data, yet Yost failed to refer the matter for criminal investigation at that time.
Since then, the letter notes, ECOT has closed, witnesses have moved to new jobs, emails, texts and documents have presumably been lost, and money has likely been shuffled to new accounts.
“Simply put, valuable evidence has most likely been lost while you have conducted an ‘investigation’ that you should not have been directing to begin with,” Rep. Galonski wrote.
A copy of the full letter is attached and pasted below.