Senate budget bill continues pattern of underinvestment
Posted June 12, 2017 in Press Releases
The Ohio Senate majority left major issues unsettled in its two-year state budget released today. Most importantly, it left intact a basic structure that underinvests in Ohio’s people and its communities. Key issues, such as the status of Medicaid expansion and the severity of cuts to that program, remain up in the air. There were some positives: Reversal of a cut to the foodbanks, additional support for children’s services and libraries, and the deletion of a destructive amendment added in the House bill preempting local lead-abatement efforts. However, the cuts-heavy bill also removes important initiatives, such as employment and training programs for people eligible for food assistance, funding for public transit from the Volkswagen court settlement, and fees that would support more affordable housing. The Senate bill remains fundamentally flawed because of its continuation of Ohio’s misguided tax cuts, particularly the $1 billion annual deduction for business owners that has proven so unproductive. This leaves Ohio with insufficient revenue to fund education, health care and other vital services.
Much remains to be learned about the Senate bill, and especially the spending cuts in it. It appears that K-12 funding is reduced from levels in the House budget. We do not know how the $200 million to be taken out of the Medicaid program will affect patients, hospitals and the health infrastructure of Ohio. Nor has a solution been found to replace $200 million in annual sales tax revenue collected by counties and transit agencies that they will otherwise lose starting in 2019. Major changes from the House and Senate budgets will be required if Ohioans and our communities are to have the resources we need.