Ohio State of the State: Where Does Education Stand?

Public News Service - February 7, 2012

Mary Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Education is expected to be a focal point as Iowa Governor John Kasich delivers his State of the State address today at an elementary school in Steubenville. But when it comes to the state of education, a new report finds alarming levels of fiscal distress at districts across Ohio because of state budget cuts. 

According to a survey from Policy Matters Ohio (PMO), two of three responding districts have budget shortfalls, which are forcing many to cut courses, materials, extracurricular activities and labor. Report author Piet van Lier, an education researcher for PMO, says the reductions, especially staffing, have a direct impact on the quality of education.

“A lot of the districts talked about allowing class sizes to increase. So that certainly is not the best scenario. Whether they are advanced or behind, getting that individual attention really makes a big difference for a lot of students.”

The current state budget reduced school funding in Ohio by $1.8 billion when compared to the previous biennium. But asking local voters to restore lost state revenue is considered a risky move. 

Van Lier says the state needs to restore its revenue system and reinvest in education. He says that will build opportunity for Ohio’s people, families and communities. 

“We really need to invest in education so that we can build a stronger economy, a stronger Ohio, more engaged citizens. It’s really essential to the future of Ohio.”

To address the funding problem, the report recommends the state close tax loopholes and raise taxes on top-income residents and corporations.

Van Lier says increased investment in education can also be paid for by appropriate taxes on oil and gas production as well as the collection of taxes on internet sales by out-of-state retailers.

Ohio State of the State: Where Does Education Stand? (click through for audio version)

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