Ohio 2020-21 budget shortchanges kids, families
Posted November 12, 2019 in Press Releases
In Ohio, high-quality child care is too expensive for many working families. Six of Ohio’s 10 most common jobs pay so little that a single parent would have to spend over one-third of their income for infant care.
State lawmakers increased funding to improve the quality of Ohio’s child care system by $10 million over the next two years. They also allocated an additional $420 million in federal funds to support higher-quality programming. Nevertheless, lawmakers passed the 2020-21 state budget without making child care more affordable for working families struggling to get by, according to a new analysis from Policy Matters Ohio.
“Lawmakers missed an opportunity to support more children and families in Ohio,” Researcher Will Petrik said. “High-quality child care can help lay a solid foundation in the first five years of a child’s life so they are ready to learn and grow in kindergarten, perform better in school, and gain the social and emotional skills to thrive. Child care also boosts the economy by helping parents stay at their jobs and advance in their careers.”
Ohio is one of the most difficult states for a family to qualify for support with child care. Only Indiana and Michigan make it harder. Only families at or below 130% of the federal poverty line – or $27,729 for a family of three – initially qualify for help with child care in Ohio.
Ohio has a higher eligibility threshold to qualify for public preschool – 200% of the federal poverty line – or $42,660 for a family of three. Even still, because the state doesn’t provide enough funding, only 11% of Ohio 4-year-olds and 1% of 3-year-olds attended public preschool programs during the 2017-2018 school year. In Ohio, only 40% of children and 24% of black children begin kindergarten ready to learn.
The root of the problem, said Petrik, is that Ohio policymakers have placed more emphasis on passing tax breaks for special interests and tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy at the expense of funding programs like child care and preschool.
“The wealthiest 1% of Ohioans take home over $41,000 in tax breaks each year as a result of tax cuts since 2005 and Ohio gives away more than $9 billion in tax breaks each year,” Petrik said. “Instead of continued tax cuts for wealthy Ohioans, we need to invest in our children by fully supporting high-quality child care and early education.”