The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) voted in opposition to the state budget today after hours of debate on the House Floor. The budget (House Bill 153) prioritizes the state's spending for the next two years. The legislation, despite an estimated eight billion dollar deficit, increases state spending by five billion dollars.
"This budget slashes necessary services such as childcare vouchers, education funding and senior services, yet the Republicans have added 5 billion dollars in spending," President Williams remarked. "By shifting the burden onto local government and communities, the middle class and minorities are disproportionally affected. This budget does nothing to address the underlying funding gaps, but increases them."
OLBC members blasted the bill's spending priorities and noted that very few provisions within it were geared towards promoting job retention or growth. Areas of particular concern include the 300 million dollar cut to counties to fund Medicaid, disability and child protection over the biennium.
"It is another sad day in Ohio for the middle class and working families of this state," Said State Representative Tracy Maxwell (D-Columbus). "There is such an obvious intent to dismantle anything that could potentially support the stabilization, elevation or mobilization of the middle class. Education, transportation and compensation are all under assault by this legislation. The failure to recognize that sabotaging the middle class is a detriment to the stability of the entire state is both selfish and short sighted"
Additional items in the state budget will also affect middle class and minority communities. Several School districts have already laid off teachers and school workers in anticipation of the budget cuts. Income eligibility for childcare assistance is changed from 150% of the federal poverty level to 125%, making childcare less accessible. A family of 3 with earnings of more than $23,160 per year would not qualify.
State Representative Clayton Luckie (D-Dayton) remarked, "This State Budget is going to be devastating to the people of Ohio; but the largest impact will be felt in our minority communities. Just when we thought the people were getting a foot hold on the financial situation that has been suppressing minorities for the past couple of years, this budget will do nothing but push people down further. This budget will change the quality of life for all people; negatively not for the common good. I hope that the Senate has seen the errors in this budget and corrects them before the true negative impact is felt by all."
With the passage of the budget the legislation will head to the Senate, where Senate OLBC members gear up for the budget fight.
"With this budget, the state is abdicating its responsibility to provide opportunities to its citizens, and sets us back a generation by killing jobs, pushing the tough choices on to our local governments and jeopardizing Ohio's future prosperity," said Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland). "The governor promised a new day for our state, but little did we know that this included attacking workers' rights, making our communities less safe and decimating public education."