Posts Tagged 'Budget'

Schools Across State Starving in Face of Historically Deep Budget Cuts

As the Ohio House Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education prepares to meet at the Warren County ESC, in Lebanon, State Rep. Matt Lundy highlighted the need to put our kids and communities first as they face financial crisis.

Ohio school districts are projecting huge deficits because of $1.4 billion in cuts to education in the state’s operating budget, which passed along party lines.  Schools in Warren County were cut a total of nearly $27 million for fiscal years 2012-13 when compared to 2011, including more than $4 million from Lebanon City Schools and $9 million from Mason City School. Districts across the state are left to struggle with the best way to prepare children for the future with larger class sizes, fewer music and art programs, costly extra-curricular activities and limited or no busing. 

“Rather than addressing the brewing financial crisis facing communities like Lebanon, where the city schools face a projected deficit of nearly $2 million dollars for fiscal year 2013 and more than $3 million for fiscal year 2014, Republicans have decimated school funding.  Schools across the state struggle to cope with unfunded mandates, large class sizes and few teachers in the classroom,” said Rep. Lundy.

House Bill 30 dismantled education reforms set in place by Democrats taking apart key provisions like all-day kindergarten, and it removed the Evidence Based Model for education, returning us to an unconstitutional funding system that is overly reliant on property taxes, while we wait for Gov. Kasich to introduce his own plan, and hold hearings around the state nearly two years later.

“It’s been 15 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our school funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property tax,” said State Rep. Matt Lundy. “Today, as schools face tough decisions this reliance is only growing, while we just begin to have hearings nearly two years after dismantling the Evidence Based Model that would have helped to reduce the burden on local property taxpayers.”

35 school districts are preparing to ask citizens to pass levies, increasing their local property taxes, during special elections in August. While school districts across the state are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014. This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. Policy Matters Ohio also estimates that school districts in “Fiscal Watch” or “Fiscal Emergency” could spike by 300 percent this year, from 14 to 43.

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Republican Budget Cuts Responsible for More than 700 Teacher Layoffs this Week Alone

State Representatives Denise Driehaus and Mike Foley urged the Republican legislature and Gov. Kasich to take a serious look at the Kids and Communities First Fund announced by House Democrats this week.  The fund would help offset historically deep budget cuts after the layoff of more than 700 teachers that was disclosed over the course of two days.

Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers take retirement packages.  The district will also shorten the school day and cut music and arts programs.  These layoffs come even as the district will place a $65 million levy on the ballot in the fall to close the budget hole created by the $59 million the district will lose due to state budget cuts. Additionally, the Cleveland Teachers Union agreed to a 5.6 – 6 percent pay cut for next year.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/17/12]

“These kinds of cuts will only continue statewide if we do not take action to curb Gov. Kasich’s massive budget cuts.  This week’s news is incredibly disheartening,” said Rep. Foley. “While unemployment rates slowly go down more than 700 teachers were laid off this week in two of the state’s largest districts.”

Cincinnati City Schools, the highest ranked urban district in the state, announced 237 teacher layoffs this week due to $43 million dollars in budget cuts.  The district says the layoffs are due to funding cuts. Cincinnati City Schools faces a projected deficit of more than $53 million ($53,868,502) in fiscal year 2013 and a frightening $115 million ($115,099,388) in fiscal year 2014.  Julie Sellers, President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as saying, “This year already most of our grievances were about overloaded classrooms…” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/18/12]

“These layoffs will not only hurt our children’s education and future, they will hurt the families of those losing jobs, predominantly women,” said Rep. Driehaus. “Gov. Kasich’s policies are bad for economic development and bad for women.  Our communities deserve better, but unfortunately we’re seeing that women and families are being disproportionally affected. I urge my Republican colleagues and Gov. Kasich to put partisan politics aside and do what is right for our children and their teachers by passing the Kids and Communities First Fund.”

This week, House Democrats announced the Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  This fund will help keep teachers in the classroom and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio. Additionally, this fund will help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers. The fund will make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from Gov. Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase.  The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.

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Rep. Clyde Disappointed with Disrespectful Comments by Ohio Right to Life

As an Ohio Right to Life advocate was testifying in the ongoing Finance Committee hearings on the Mid-Biennial Budget Review (HB 497), which now includes a provision to defund Planned Parenthood, State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) was taken aback by the inappropriate comments made about young women. 

During her testimony before the committee, the Ohio Right to Life advocate stated, “We know why Planned Parenthood clinics are in places like Kent.”  The statement was made as if there is something wrong with locating a Planned Parenthood clinic near a college campus, where thousands of young women would be in proximity to the clinic’s important, life-saving services.  That sentiment was expressed further during questions and answers.    

“These insinuating comments are completely out of line and disrespectful to young women around this state,” said Rep. Clyde.  “Many college students are away from home, do not have a primary care physician on campus, and are not insured or are out of their network while away at school.  They often do not have the financial means to go elsewhere for these very basic and private healthcare needs such as annual pap smears.”

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Kent does not perform abortions.  However, like all Planned Parenthood clinics, they provide basic preventative health services for thousands of women and men.  If Ohio follows through with this attempt to defund stand-alone family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, we risk losing millions in federal funding putting women’s health at great risk.  Recently, Texas lost all federal family planning funding, which totaled $39 million last year, for blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving any state or federal funding.  Federal law already prohibits funding for abortion services.

During Rep. Clyde’s questions, Committee Chairman Ron Amstuz abruptly cut off all questioning, calling this an “emotional” issue for some members of the committee and ended the hearing. 

“This war on women is offensive and degrading.  This is not simply a women’s issue or an issue about a women’s choice, this is a family issue,” said Rep. Clyde.  “Many mothers depend on services such as cancer screenings that Planned Parenthood provides.  If we take these critical services away, we put these families at risk of losing a mother, a daughter, grandmother or aunt.  That is simply unacceptable.”

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Don’t Cut Ohio off from the World, Says Leader Budish

Democratic House Leader Armond Budish sent a letter to Gov. Kasich  urging him to reconsider closing the Ohio foreign trade offices and the Global Markets Division of the Ohio Department of Development. The announcement that all eleven trade offices will close as the division will be eliminated due to the new JobsOhio plan was made this week. A copy of the letter is below.

Dear Governor Kasich:

I write to you today to urge that you reconsider the closing of the Ohio foreign trade offices and the Global Markets Division of the Ohio Department of Development. The elimination of these offices will only further hinder Ohio’s economic growth and recovery in already difficult times.

In today’s highly competitive global economy, it is critical that we have international representation not only to help connect Ohio products to markets abroad, but also to help attract new companies to Ohio.

Attracting foreign companies to Ohio has been a bright spot in Ohio’s economic development efforts.  Over the last several years, Ohio’s ability to attract foreign companies has yielded very positive results.  According to your administration’s website, nearly 200,000 Ohioans hold jobs because of the 3,363 foreign-based companies from more than 40 countries doing business right here in Ohio.

Furthermore, the Global Markets Division has helped Ohio become a leading exporter over the last decade, consistently ranking our state in the top ten exporting states nationally.  In 2010, Ohio was ranked eighth in the U.S. exporting $41.4 billion in products and goods. 

Clearly, the Global Markets Division has a proven track record and is well respected globally and throughout the United States. Ohio’s Global Markets Division has become a business development model for other states looking to grow their exports and import job-creating businesses to their states.

Closing these offices sends a terrible message to the world about our economic viability and attractiveness.  Frankly, it is my view that eliminating this well respected and established program will hurt Ohio’s ability to attract new business from around the world, and will potentially destroy partnerships that help support Ohio’s economy.

At a time when our economy is so fragile and when the unemployment rate increased for the first time in over 14 months, we must do everything we can to bring jobs to Ohio and foster economic growth. Again, I urge you to reconsider eliminating the Global Markets Division of the Department of Development.

Sincerely,

Armond Budish
House Minority Leader
State Representative
8th District

 

GOP Policies Threaten Recovery, Layoffs Devastating Choice to Fill Budget Gap-Thoughts from State Rep. Dan Ramos

The new state budget attempts to battle unemployment by firing Ohioans.

Fueled by shortsighted ideology, Governor Kasich and the Republican dominated Legislature have forgone the popular option of closing tax loopholes that amount to $7 billion annually in this state, choosing instead to balance the budget entirely by selling public assets, cutting local funds and eliminating thousands of jobs.

In what they’ve called the “Jobs Budget,” the GOP has shown that they would rather have Ohioans idle on unemployment than let them earn a real wage and add value to our communities and economy.

The party in power is out of touch at best, and at worst, recklessly neglectful to the needs of this state.

Two recent announcements should strike Ohioans as deeply concerning.  First, Ohio’s unemployment strayed from the national average and went up in June for the first time in 22 months – nearly 2 years of recovery – in part due to the loss of 7,300 government jobs.  Second, because of the fire sale of two prisons in Lorain and Marion County to private owners, over 1,100 prison jobs in our area will soon be eliminated, go without being filled, or for those fortunate enough to stay on – pay less competitively in a setting where staff are statistically more likely to be assaulted by a prisoner. 

No doubt, every Ohioan hopes that we won’t see unemployment rise to 8.9% in July; that June was a blip and we will resettle, but whether or not it does rise, we should not pretend that the layoffs created by the Majority Party’s budget are happening in a vacuum.  Their ideological single-mindedness will test the limits of our recovery; forcing Ohioans to create two jobs for every one eliminated if we are to make any progress.

All the while, Ohio’s Republicans are behaving as though we’ve gotten something for free and that nothing is wrong, but Ohioans know better than most that nothing comes for free.

Our children will bear the brunt of it using outdated learning materials in classrooms with 40 or 50 of their peers.  They’ll have diminished access to honors classes, fine arts, foreign languages and sports, and will be taught by teachers who are in financial ruin, whose efforts aren’t respected, let alone supported by their elected representation.

Our communities will wonder why police responses are slower and why regular patrols aren’t keeping our street corners safe.  We’ll wish that the fire department could respond more quickly, or in fuller force.  We’ll lose mementos and purses; we’ll lose loved ones.

Our automobiles will feel it with each grinding pothole that the city can’t afford to fix.  Our neighborhoods will be plagued by the barren, foreclosed properties of our friends who have lost jobs, public or private, and we will wonder why the city won’t keep them up to code or demolish them.

In short, after years of working to do more with less, we’ll simply do less. 

What Ohioans must remember is that this course, which will cost so much to so many, is the choice that the Ohio GOP made with exuberant smiles on the floors of the House and Senate.  This is the option that they chose over all others and have continued to defend even as the pink slips are printing in Lorain County.  While weary local governments and school districts contemplate the levies they so desperately need to pass in the fall, their state officials have gone on break for the summer.

We cannot afford to view these issues through the happy fiction of Governor Kasich’s JobsBudget, and we must not let his allies deconstruct the civic and social achievements of this state. 

In truth, we don’t just need jobs, we need careers, but that’s a lot to ask of our current leadership, which seems poorly equipped to provide honest Ohioans with either.

Dan Ramos
State Representative
Ohio House District 56

MUST READ: “Columbus Dispatch” State budget’s targeted tax breaks draw criticism

Policy Matters Ohio recently released a budget analysis showing Gov. Kasich’s budget gives hundreds of millions in tax breaks to the wealthy and special interest, while slashing millions in education and public safety funds. Excerpts of the Columbus Dispatch article by Darrel Rowland follow:

“At the same time that lawmakers were making wide-ranging cuts in the state budget enacted this month, they gave more than $400 million in tax breaks, a public policy group says in a new analysis.

“’Some of the kind of tax breaks we are generating do not have any job requirements attached to them,’ said Zach Schiller, research director of Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal-leaning group based in Cleveland.

“’We’ve got every state trying to do this type of thing, and it’s a zero-sum game…’

“The beneficiaries of these new or extended incentives approved by legislators and Gov. John Kasich range from horse tracks to private operators of the state’s development efforts and Ohio Turnpike to gift cards and customer-loyalty programs to buildings for captive deer.

“’We comprehensively overhauled our business tax system in 2005 under the theory we were cutting large numbers of special breaks and abatements because we would have a tax system that would have lower rates and attract business.

“’Are we in effect saying that’s failed?’ Schiller said.

“Kasich defended his budget approach as “absolutely correct.”

“House Democratic leader Armond Budish of Beachwood agreed with the Policy Matters assessment.

“’It is inexcusable that Ohio’s recently passed budget cuts millions from education, police and fire protection, mental-health services and long-term care for seniors, while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and to special interests,’ Budish said.

‘”The effects of the hundreds of millions in lost revenue will be catastrophic, and the burden of fixing it will be left for the next General Assembly, while communities across the state pay the price.’

“The Senate’s version of a state budget called for a panel to study the state’s tax breaks, but that provision was stripped out in the final deal with the House and governor’s office.

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Read the full article here.

MUST READ: PLAIN DEALER “Gov. John Kasich spends $2 million off-the-cuff”

After passing a budget that cuts tens of millions from local governments, schools, nursing homes and other crucial services, Gov. Kasich “nonchalantly” hands out $2 million suggesting the money may need to come from Ohio’s Rainy Day Fund. Remember Governor as you said yesterday, “It’s not mine, it’s the taxpayers.” Excerpts of the Plain Dealer article follow:

“Gov. John Kasich… spent $2 million so calmly and nonchalantly you would have thought he was just handing over $2.

“While touring a research laboratory at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus the governor asked the hospital’s CEO Dr. Steve Allen what it would take for all six Ohio children’s hospitals to work more collaboratively…

“’Does $1 million get your attention?’ the straight-faced Republican governor asked Allen…

“The stunned hospital administrator smiled broadly and said yes while Kasich’s staffers looked surprised by the governor’s offer…

“Kasich then upped his offer, negotiating against himself, to $2 million. He then turned to State Rep. Anne Gonzales, a suburban Columbus Republican, who was also taking the tour, and told her that he may need to snatch the money from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, the so-called rainy day fund.

“He would need legislative approval to take rainy day cash. Gonzales said Kasich had her vote.

“’I’ll give you a couple million,’ Kasich said, brokering a deal before a small throng of television cameras, reporters and hospital workers in a small research office. ‘But you’ve got to share it. It’s not mine, it’s the taxpayers.’

“Kasich spent the money in about 60 seconds while calling for one of his staffers to get his budget director Tim Keen on the phone. Keen was nowhere to be found. He’s vacationing with his family and didn’t answer. The governor joked later that he better let his budget director know what he had just done.

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Read the full article here.


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