March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023
The following testimony was delivered as part of a panel with other members of Advocates for Ohio's Future. A PDF of the full panel's testimony is available here.
Chairwoman Carruthers, Ranking Member Liston and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Will Petrik. I am the Project Director with Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Our mission is to create a more prosperous, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on House Bill 33.
In my testimony, I will highlight priorities we support in Gov. DeWine’s proposed budget and share ways we can work together to ensure that all Ohioans, no matter where we live or what we look like, have stability, economic security and basic human dignity.
Budget priorities that support the well-being of children and families
The proposed budget will prepare more of our youngest children to be ready to start kindergarten and help parents stay in the workforce. It will help an estimated 15,000 children get the care they need by expanding eligibility for publicly funded child care to more working parents. Gov. DeWine’s budget also proposes a significant new investment in public preschool, which would mean an additional 11,525 3- and 4-year-old children in families with low incomes will have an opportunity to get high-quality early childhood education. High-quality early care and education gives children a strong start and improves their long-term health and economic opportunities.
H.B. 33 appropriates $150 million in SFY 2024 from one-time American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help ensure that child care professionals and professionals in other critical occupations can afford child care for their own children. It will establish a child care scholarship program for critical occupations and direct-service professionals who make up to 200% of the federal poverty level ($49,720 for a family of three), expanding access to child care, including infant and toddler care.
We support these investments, and we must do more to make sure more Ohioans have the resources to pursue their dreams.
More than 460,000 Ohio children lived in poverty in 2021. Four of the 10 most common jobs in our state don’t pay enough to feed a family of three without food assistance. Ongoing inflation is making it harder for parents to afford groceries, child care, and heat for their homes.
Compared to their more economically secure peers, children who are hungry or who grow up in poverty are more likely to do worse in school, have health problems or behavioral issues, and get involved with the criminal legal system as adults. On the other hand, when kids have economic stability and enough to eat, they are healthier and do better at school.
As my colleagues have highlighted, things are about to get worse for many of our neighbors. An estimated 673,000 households in Ohio will have fewer resources to keep food on the table and 220,000 Ohioans are at risk of losing health coverage. We must expand opportunity for these Ohioans and make sure our neighbors can live with stability and economic security.
Increase family stability and security: Change the tax code to support families
The proposed child tax deduction in H.B. 33 won’t support the families who need it most. Under the proposal, a family with two kids making $200,000 a year would save nearly $200 each year. A family with two kids making $29,000 won’t get a dime from the deduction.
Policy Matters Ohio recently released a report that outlines a new solution: the Thriving Families Tax Credit. This proposal would support nearly a million families making less than $85,000 and benefit an estimated 1.8 million children with an average annual tax refund of roughly $1,000 per family. A state thriving families tax credit would help families pay for the basics. We estimate that 77% of Black children in Ohio would benefit and an estimated 300,000 families in the 32 Appalachian counties would be eligible for the credit.
A 10% refundable Earned Income Tax Credit would also put more money in the pockets of Ohioans who work hard every day. Ohioans who are paid low wages would have additional resources to help with food, safe housing, health care and other basic family expenses. According to a 2020 analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, adding a 10% refundable state EITC would help an estimated 748,000 families in Ohio. It would provide an annual average payment of $324 to families earning between $22,000 and $40,000 a year.
Instead of more tax giveaways to the wealthiest Ohioans, we encourage lawmakers to change the tax code to make sure all Ohioans can live with security and thrive.
Expand opportunity: Help more parents participate in the workforce
State lawmakers can ensure all Ohioans are able to support their families and participate in the economy. The proposed budget takes a step to make child care more affordable for some working families, child care professionals and Ohioans in critical occupations. We encourage you and your colleagues to take a larger step and make child care affordable for all who need it. Under the proposed budget, a single mother with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old earning $40,000 annually would spend roughly 44% of her income on child care, but she makes too much to qualify for public support. She’d have little left over for housing, groceries, healthcare, and other basic necessities.
State lawmakers can change that by boosting initial eligibility for publicly funded child care up to 200% of the federal poverty level. At that level, a family of four could make up to $55,500 and be eligible for public support to help pay for child care. Expanding access to child care will help more parents participate in the workforce, and better prepare our children for the future. When families and communities thrive, we all benefit from a stronger economy and a more prosperous state.
Thank you for your commitment to building an Ohio where all of us can live with dignity and security. Together, we can ensure all Ohioans can thrive. I welcome any questions or concerns you have about the content of my testimony.
 Suveksha Bhujel and Ryan Sherrock, “Redbook, LBO Analysis of Executive Budget Proposal, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services,” Legislative Service Commission, accessed on March 7, 2023, https://bit.ly/41Um1oc
 The State of Ohio Executive Budget, Fiscal Years 2024-2025, Ohio Office of Budget and Management, Jan 21, 2023, Department of Children and Youth, Agency Budget Highlights (pg. 199), https://bit.ly/3LjWv5X; Jacquelyn Schreoder and Suveksha Bhujel, “Redbook, LBO Analysis of Executive Budget Proposal, Department of Children and Youth,” Legislative Service Commission, accessed on March 14, 2023, https://bit.ly/3lbgglv
 Suveksha Bhujel and Ryan Sherrock, “ODJFS Redbook,” op. cit.
 Irwin Garfinkel, Laurel Sariscsany, Elizabeth Ananat et al., “The Benefits and Costs of a Child Allowance,” Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, September 23, 2022, https://bit.ly/3Lovga7
 “February 2023 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Extension Approved,” Ohio: COVID-19 Waivers & Flexibilities, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, accessed on March 8, 2023, https://bit.ly/3J30GA5
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