Expand transportation choices, improve health for all, leverage public resources for public good
Posted March 10, 2021 in Press Releases
Policy Matters releases three “Budget Bites” with targeted recommendations
While the state budget touches all aspects of Ohioans’ lives, for many of us, the process is complicated, confusing and inaccessible.
Each year, Policy Matters Ohio releases a series of “Budget Bites” that analyze small portions of the state budget and provide policy recommendations. Today, the organization is releasing bites that make recommendations for increasing transportation options, improving health for all Ohioans and rebalancing the state tax code.
“Everyone should be able to participate in the state budget process,” said Communications Director Caitlin Johnson. “Unsafe statehouse hearing room conditions have made it harder than ever for Ohioans to engage. We hope these bite-size pieces help Ohioans urge their lawmakers to pass a state budget that cares for all of us, no matter what we look like or how much money we have.”
Policy Matters, in partnership with the MOVE Ohio coalition, called on lawmakers to create a more balanced transportation budget. More public resources are needed for healthy transportation alternatives such as public transit, and bike- and pedestrian-safe streets. Each year lawmakers spend billions of dollars on Ohio’s transportation system — nearly all for roads and highways. Routinely, less than 2% of the state’s transportation dollars go towards public transit. The proposed 2022-23 budget would dedicate only $56 million to public transportation, out of an annual transportation budget of more than $4 billion. (1.3% in FY2022, 1.4% in FY2023). MOVE Ohio is hosting a 2 p.m. press call today to call for more transit funding.
COVID-19 has added new urgency to addressing Ohio’s racial health disparities. Policy Matters, in partnership with the Health Equity Network of Ohio, recommended state lawmakers adopt and fund routine health impact assessments for all proposed legislation, expand 211 services across the state and recognize racism as a public health crisis. At $3.5 million annually, these programs would represent a small fraction of the state spending and provide great long-term benefit.
Policy Matters outlined a plan to rebalance the state tax code so everyone pays their fair share. Today, the wealthiest Ohioans pay less state and local taxes as a share of their incomes than Ohioans with the lowest incomes. Years of segregation, exploitation and discrimination have limited opportunities for many Black and Latinx Ohioans, who are more likely to be among those with the lowest incomes, while the wealthiest Ohioans are disproportionately white. Overhauling the tax code would generate revenue for schools, public health and other key public structures while also improving racial equity.
“The state budget belongs to all of us,” Johnson said. “Budget bites are a tool for us to shape Ohio’s future so we all can thrive, no exceptions.”