Ohio budget underfunds schools, transit, local government
Posted November 07, 2019 in Press Releases
Policy Matters releases new analysis of 2020-21 state budget
Ohio lawmakers appropriated $48.8 billion in state dollars in the 2020-21 General Revenue Fund, an increase of $3.7 billion over the previous two-year budget. New analysis from Policy Matters Ohio shows the increase will benefit certain programs, especially ones that serve at-risk children, but many crucial programs and services remain starved for resources.
“How we raise and spend money reflects what we value,” said report author and Policy Matters Senior Project Director Wendy Patton. “Ohio’s leaders say they want to help working people get ahead, provide great schools for all kids, and get treatment to Ohioans struggling with addiction. Most Ohioans also want these things, but without state support, we can’t deliver them.”
Important things are underfunded or left out of the state budget:
- Formula funding for K-12 is lower than in 2005, adjusted for inflation and enrollment.
- State support for human services in the General Revenue Fund, besides Medicaid, is 11.5% below 2006 levels.
- Lawmakers failed to fund more slots for public preschool and did not expand initial eligibility for public child care to help more struggling families.
- Lawmakers considered curtailing the $1 billion LLC Loophole, but the budget contains just a small improvement which now may be overturned.
Lawmakers made improvements, but not enough to offset years of harm:
- Lawmakers increased the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps workers with children, but didn’t make it refundable, key to helping the lowest-paid working families.
- The transportation budget boosted the gas tax, raising an additional $865 million annually for highways and contributing to an increase of $633 million (12%) to local government. This still leaves urban counties and big cities below past funding levels.
- Lawmakers nearly doubled transit funding, but state support remains far below what Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2015 study said was needed.
- An additional $72 million for need-based college aid will help students, but lawmakers retained structural problems that leave out or shortchange students at community colleges and at Ohio’s only public historically black university.
- $675 million to the Student Success and Wellness Fund supports health, mental health and other services for students in poverty, but funds for classroom teaching will be eroded by inflation.
- At least $182 million is provided in the budget to help reduce Ohio’s high infant mortality rates.
- Lawmakers boosted state psychiatric hospitals by $55.5 million; increased treatment and prevention by $72.2 million; and brought program funding for addiction-affected families to an additional 30 counties.
- Lawmakers doubled state support for child protective services; boosted funding for indigent legal defense by $152 million; and added $20 million to address the lead poisoning crisis.
- A new H2Ohio Fund allots $172 million to clean lakes and waterways: This can start fixing Ohio’s poisoned lake and waterways, but lacks the size and duration of funding proposed by Governor DeWine.
“In this budget, lawmakers left out working families in so many ways,” said Patton. “Income tax cuts take $330 million away from communities to give it to the wealthiest. By 2021, Ohio will dole out nearly $10 billion in tax breaks. These policies keep Ohio from living our values.”