OFT Update - Legislative issues 5.5.17

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House version of state budget bleak for education, public services with "SB 5" kicker

The state House Tuesday  OK'd a budget that could mean more cuts for k-12 public education - even when many districts are looking at state fund regressing to 2010 levels - underfunded higher education with an "SB 5" attack on faculty sick leave and the lowest support for children's services in the nation.

The House passed a budget that is not balanced. It only addressed $632 million of the $800 million shortfall. Now the senate has an additional $168 million shortfall to address before approving the state budget in June. OFT will monitor what happens with funding for the public education, higher education and public services our members provide children and their families.

Ohio's support for children services lowest in the nation

According to Policy Matters, Ohio’s support for children services through the state budget is the lowest in the nation. If all of Ohio’s children are to grow up with the best chance to thrive and contribute, the state needs to improve funding for this crucial service. Increased drug addiction means that Ohio’s public children services agencies care for an increasing number of children. Despite growing caseloads, Gov. Kasich’s FY 2018-2019 budget flat-funded these services, which means they loses money when accounting for inflation. OFT believes the state must do more to meet the needs of children and families.

Ohio public higher education institutions need $ 240 million more a year, "SB 5" attack hits faculty

State officials want to increase the number of Ohioans holding a degree or industry credential but the House version of the state budget fails to provide the resources to make it happen. The House eliminated the governor's minor 1 percent increase in higher ed funding - Ohio’s 14 public universities, 24 regional branch campuses and 23 community colleges will be flat funded for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The combination of flat funding and a tuition freeze means colleges continue to be asked to do more with less. OFT believes this fails to move Ohio forward.

Like another slap in workers' faces, the House version of the state budget takes sick leave away from college faculty. State Representatives May 2 passed the budget bill with language to reduce the amount of sick leave employees of a state college or university are entitled to earn. This attack on workers' rights recalls similar attacks in "SB 5" when lawmakers sought to end collective bargaining. SB 5 was overturned by citizen referendum in 2011. Call your state senator, tell him or her to reject this provision.

See the House version as passed compared to the executive budget as originally introduced by the governor.

See amendments made for the House floor vote (these are in addition to earlier amendments made by the House Finance Committee).

House seeks to give legislature more control over Medicaid with premiums, work requirements

Adding premiums and work requirements to the Medicaid program will mean 37,000 people will lose coverage, according to the Legislative Service Commission. The work requirement could result in people losing coverage because of ill-defined language. OFT supports fixing the language and continuing Medicaid expansion.

K-12 funding gets increase from Governor’s Budget but still some questionable amendments added

Charter school amendments weakening accountability appear out of nowhere. Hundreds of school districts will receive fewer dollars than they did in 2010. Externships for teachers were removed. Additional funding was added for schools but far too little.

See the House version as passed compared to the executive budget as originally introduced by the governor.

See amendments made for the House floor vote (these are in addition to earlier amendments made by the House Finance Committee).

Other notes

The vote was not along party lines. Both Democrats and Republicans voted for and against the House version of the state budget. See the vote tally.

See the Hannah Report article about the House passage of the budget.