With Ohio “on the verge of recession” and continuing to trail the nation in job growth, Democratic members of the House Finance Committee Tuesday said it was time for state leaders and lawmakers to “wake up” ahead of the next round of budget deliberations.
“Republicans promised trickle-down tax policies would grow our economy and create good-paying jobs, but these policies of the past have only held Ohio back from growth and opportunity,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Cera), ranking member on the House Finance Committee. “After six years in charge, Gov. Kasich now says Ohio is on the verge of a recession – and yet the state budget plan offers more of the fundamentally flawed tax shifting that got us here. Ohio’s middle class families cannot afford more of the same. It’s not working. It’s time to wake up to the on-the-ground reality in our state.”
Cera and members of the House Finance Committee noted that Ohio has fallen behind economically over the past six years Republicans have been at the helm:
-Last month Ohio lost more jobs than any state in the nation.
-Annual Ohio job creation has consistently trailed the national average since 2005.
-Ohio is the seventh largest state, but was 28th in jobs and growth since 2009.
-Nearly 30 percent of all Ohio jobs are low-wage.
“While the rest of the country is moving full speed ahead in terms of economic growth, Ohio is headed toward the edge of an economic recession,” said Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “Families working two or three jobs just to keep up are looking to their leaders in Columbus for an approach that creates opportunity and growth. We need to answer their call with a plan for our future, not a failed plan from the past.”
The Cincinnati lawmaker and her colleagues underlined the fact that with less economic opportunities, the quality of life for Ohio families has unequivocally declined in recent years:
-Sixteen percent of Ohioans are living in poverty, as are 23 percent of children.
-Seventeen percent of Ohioans and 1 in 4 Ohio children are “food insecure”.
-Ohio now ranks 39th among all states on America’s Health Rankings, down from 26th in 2006.
-Ohio’s incarceration rate grew by 11 percent from 2003 to 2013.
-Ohio leads the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths.
“We need to put our communities and our kids first,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “We can’t afford to keep prioritizing tax giveaways for the ultra-rich and expect a different result – it’s not working. It’s time to wake up.”
Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson), who sits on the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, expressed concern with the state’s backward slide in competitiveness among other states:
-Ohio has dropped from 5th among all states to 23rd on Education Week’s annual quality rankings.
-Ohio ranks 37th among all states in the percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher.
-Ohio ranks 45th among all states in college affordability.
“When leading businesses like Amazon look at Ohio to create new jobs or expand, community infrastructure and an educated workforce can influence whether we win or lose,” said Patterson. “That’s why we need to make sure our children - no matter their zip code – have an equal opportunity to gain the knowledge they need to be the next generation of innovators and leaders who grow our economy. However, our children won’t have that opportunity if they’re stuck in failing, for-profit charter schools that shift critical state resources away from public schools.”
As the House prepares to draft changes to the state budget, it is unclear whether or not Republican leaders will keep the governor’s slow-growth economic philosophy intact as they have in the previous three state budgets.