COLUMBUS— The House Committee on Finance and Appropriations approved the state budget, Substitute House Bill 59, today for consideration of the full House later this week. Democratic members on the panel offered 16 amendments to the bill, 15 of which were rejected by House Republicans. The amendments were part of a larger effort by Democratic lawmakers to address issues of transparency, accountability, public education, health care and tax reform for middle class Ohioans.
“The countless hours of testimony on Medicaid expansion made it clear that it has overwhelming support in the state,” said Rep. Foley. “The removal of Medicaid Expansion by House Republicans made it clear that they are listening to an extreme right constituency, and leaving nearly 300,000 Ohioans without healthcare as a result. While I hope an agreement is reached to put some form of expansion back in the budget, the Republican track record on this vital issue does not look good.”
Among the amendments rejected by House Republicans was a 10 percent targeted middle class tax cut. In addition to a targeted 10 percent tax cut for middle class Ohioans, this proposal also provides an additional $118 million for schools ($54 million in FY14; $64 million in FY 15). This targeted middle class tax cut would apply to all Ohioans making under $105,000 or all those in the bottom 7 tax brackets. This Targeted Middle Class Tax Cut utilizes the same revenue that was utilized by the House GOP’s proposals to provide a 7 percent income tax cut, which disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
“It is very frustrating,” Rep. Foley added. “You hear how people want to work together for policies that move Ohio forward, but here we have ideas to do just that and all of them are rejected. It stinks of narrow-minded, partisan right-wing thinking. Surely, we presented some ideas that the Republicans could find common ground on. What is so contentious about investing in public education, or rebuilding the middle class in Ohio? Ohio’s middle class and most vulnerable citizens are the biggest losers in this plan.”
House Republicans nixed major provisions of Governor Kasich’s initial budget proposal through a recently introduced substitute version of the bill. Democrats’ amendments to expand Medicaid, prevent the reprioritization of family planning dollars, restore education funding and give a targeted tax cut to middle class Ohioans were all soundly rejected. However, major provisions added into the budget by Republicans at the last minute included a $30 million increase for nursing homes and a dramatic shift in public health education that imposes criminal sanctions for school sex ed. programs that lead to “gateway sexual activity.”