Gov. DeWine should use his veto pen today
Posted on 06/29/21 by Wendy Patton in Revenue & Budget
Tax cuts and expansion of state subsidy for private, religious schools should go
This year many people raised their voices to call for a budget that cares for all Ohioans no matter what we look like or where we live — and to some good ends. Despite some progress on K-12 education, child care affordability and health care for new moms, certain lawmakers chose to lavish further giveaways on the wealthy and corporations. Now the governor’s veto pen stands between what the legislators propose and critical services that make all our communities stronger.
Gov. Mike DeWine should veto provisions in the 2022-23 budget bill that drain revenue the state needs to bounce back. By eliminating the top income tax bracket, the legislature is sending a windfall to the very wealthiest Ohioans on top of giving hundreds of millions in public resources to special interests in new and expanded tax breaks the legislature added to the budget bill. Without action from DeWine, the tax policies in the budget — especially the elimination of the top bracket of the income tax — will starve services that benefit all Ohioans now and in the future, and will primarily benefit the wealthiest and corporations.
DeWine should veto the rash of new tax giveaways lawmakers stuffed into the budget bill, including a sales tax break worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year that encourages companies to use temporary instead of permanent workers. Adding new, special interest tax breaks is especially ironic since legislators ditched the Tax Expenditure Review Committee. The committee was enacted on a unanimous, bipartisan, bicameral basis in 2016 to review tax breaks. DeWine should stiffen lawmakers’ collective spine by vetoing this provision.
He should also veto the reversal of last year’s pandemic legislation that protected cities from loss of revenues as commuters worked from home. While new provisions would only affect the municipal income tax in 2021, city income for the first seven months of 2021, expected to be protected by the pandemic legislation, may be wiped out by refunds. Cities are the engine of the state economy. The reversal would cripple their main source of revenue and slow recovery from the recession.
The conference committee restored the Fair School Funding Plan. This is a long-awaited step toward well-funded and equitably funded schools. It’s up to DeWine to demonstrate his commitment to all Ohioans, not just special interests, by vetoing the $300 million in expanded public money lawmakers pump into private and religious schools and education service providers. The per-pupil vouchers are much higher than per-pupil base support for public schools, which educate the vast majority of Ohio’s children. He should veto the potentially massive expansion of charter schools included in the bill which allow these publicly funded, privately operated schools to locate in any school district statewide. He should veto the additional tax breaks that directly support religious schools, which have no public oversight. He should also veto a new credit for homeschooling and as much as $70 million in credits for donations to nonprofit providers of school vouchers. Failing to take these actions would significantly undercut the good work done in the Fair Schools Funding plan.
People from across Ohio came together to oppose some of the most backwards provisions the Senate added to the budget bill. Because of their efforts, the conference committee removed some of the most destructive provisions:
- The Step Up to Quality program, designed to ensure all kids have high-quality child care, was saved from the Senate’s efforts to end it. The budget restores the 2020 mandate for child care providers who offer public child care to be 1-star rated. But, like the Senate budget, it removes the requirement for all providers to be at or above 3 stars by 2025, eliminating the mandate for child care providers to improve quality over time.
- The conference committee restored the funding eliminated by the Senate to expand broadband and eliminated provisions that would have eroded municipalities’ ability to improve broadband for their own residents. Far too many Ohio children struggled to get schooling last year because they lacked wireless services.
- The committee also eliminated the SNAP asset test provision that would have made it all but impossible for adults and families to build financial security and access food aid. The removal means that people won't have to sell their car to qualify.
Ohioans who spoke out and demanded more for their communities made a difference that will be felt for years to come:
- Ohioans persuaded legislators to extend Medicaid and provide a year of post-partum care to women who have given birth. This will help bring down Ohio’s extremely high rate of Black maternal mortality rates. The budget also includes a provision that will facilitate Medicaid payment for treatment of breast and cervical cancer.
- The pressures of Ohio’s inadequate child care system were impossible to ignore during the pandemic and are a drag on our recovery. Parents, advocates, and policy experts have long championed improving access. Their efforts secured a sure step in the right direction. The budget makes child care more affordable for working parents with incomes at or below 142% of the federal poverty level — about $31,000 a year for a family of three — an improvement from the current eligibility level of 130% of poverty (about $28,000 for this family).
This budget certainly contains traps that will slow our recovery, drive deeper divisions between people, including the truly cruel provision that allows discrimination in health care. But the people of Ohio who fought for their communities should be proud of the difference they made. Now DeWine can put Ohio on track for a more vibrant and inclusive future by knocking out provisions that cater to special interests and ensure all Ohioans can thrive.