The Cleveland Plain Dealer highlighted House Democrats plan to put Kids and Communities First and work to restore historically deep cuts to schools and communities across the state. Excerpts from the article are below.
“Ohio House Democrats want to funnel tax dollars back to schools and local governments handed a whopping cut in Republican Gov. John Kasich’s state budget passed last year.”
“House Minority Leader Armond Budish, a Beachwood Democrat, and five Democratic members of the House Finance Committee appeared at a Statehouse news conference Monday morning calling for $400 million in additional funding for schools and local governments hit by cuts in the state’s operating budget.
“’The Kids and Communities First Fund will keep teachers in the classroom and police and firefighters on the streets in communities across Ohio,’ Budish said.
“In Kasich’s first two-year budget signed into law in July 2011, local governments and schools faced deep cuts adding up to more than $2 billion collectively. Local governments were smacked with a 34 percent cut in the Local Government Fund and both schools and local governments had revenues from utilities and business property taxes slashed.
“The Democrats are proposing the funding increase be inserted into Kasich’s mid-budget review plan currently undergoing legislative hearings. They would fund the grant program by snatching up $265 million in surplus revenue, $120 million in rainy day funds and $15 million from a proposed hike in the severance tax proposed by Gov. John Kasich on oil and gas drillers. In future budgets, the fund would rise to $500 million and be paid for by adding in the proceeds of the severance tax, which is expected to rise in future years.
“Joined by a member from the Fraternal Order of Police as well as the state firefighters union, the Democrats said the cuts were making communities less safe and watering down the quality of local schools.
“’Absent a proposal like this, we are stuck in a race to the bottom in Ohio,’ said Rep. Debbie Phillips of Athens. She said the cuts affect Ohio’s economic future by making the state less attractive to businesses looking to relocate.
“Jay McDonald, president of the Ohio FOP, said the Democratic offer was ‘a pretty reasonable plan that doesn’t fix all of our problems, but takes some steps to alleviate some of our problems.’ He said he plans to encourage his membership to lobby for the Democratic proposal with GOP lawmakers.
Read the full article here.