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State needs ‘People’s Budget,’ funding child care, public education, policy group says




Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

An Ohio policy think-tank laid out the budget priorities it says would bring about a more equitable Ohio, including a focus on child care and education.

The “People’s Budget,” created by Policy Matters Ohio and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, emphasizes equalized tax codes, more supports for workers and families, along with more consistent funding for child care workers and public schools.

“The future of Ohio depends on a fair, equitable and people-centered budget that cares for all of us, no exceptions,” said Prentiss Haney, co-executive director for the OOC.

Starting with infant care costs and moving up to family and adult supports, the budget priorities the organizations identified would also bring more accountability to elected leaders, the group said in a press call on Monday.

Will Petrik, state budget researcher for Policy Matters Ohio, said “transformational investments” in child care would help not only families in need of care, but those that provide that care. Infant care, for example, costs an average of $10,000 annually in the state, according to Petrik.

“Despite these enormous costs, many child care providers … are struggling to keep their doors open, even when they’re paying the people doing the work some of the lowest wages in the state,” Petrik said.

The budget laid out by Policy Matters and OOC proposes a $20 per hour consistent pay for child care providers and compensation standards as well.

These issues directly impact Tarrezz Thompson, who provides child care for a living.

“There’s nothing in the (state) budget for us,” Thompson said. “The money has to come from somewhere, and right now, it comes from my pocket.”

Thompson said she hasn’t been able to provide herself a consistent wage since the COVID-19 pandemic began because of the costs of providing basic materials and resources for her child care business.

“We need to have enough resources to be able to take care of ourselves, so we can provide excellent care to our kids,” Thompson said.

Those fair funding resources are also needed at the educational level, which is why the groups are once again pushing for full-funding of the Fair School Funding Plan, a legislative measures that has only been phased-in for two years of the planned six-year implementation, but that aims to focus on the true cost of educating a child, rather than a blanket sum to districts.

“The key word here is ‘fair,’” said Tiana Lee, member of the OOC and co-chair of the Parent Organizing Committee. “Fair and fully funded schools look like smaller classroom sizes that provide specialized supports for our students.”

The Ohio General Assembly has a GOP supermajority in the Senate and House, something that public school advocates see as a challenge, considering the support that GOP has put behind EdChoice private school voucher programs and so-called “backpack bills” that would send the funding with each student, rather than to the districts for use.

Still, House Speaker Jason Stephens has said the Fair School Funding Plan is a legislative priority as part of the first spate of bills released by his GOP faction in the beginning of his term as speaker.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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