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Ohio Senate Republican state budget devastates low-income families to benefit the wealthy




Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, speaks with reporters. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

No child should have to go to bed hungry in Ohio. No family should have to choose whether to pay the rent, pay for child care, or see a doctor.

The Ohio Senate leadership seems to disagree. Their proposed budget would mean more stress and insecurity for children, adults, and families. Their budget proposal, released last week, instead prioritizes tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and a school voucher proposal that will send public dollars to private schools, in many cases subsidizing wealthy families who already pay tuition themselves. We can and we must do better.

Their proposal would make it harder for our neighbors to get the food and health care assistance they need. It would add new barriers that will remove people from critical public economic security programs, including SNAP and Medicaid.

SNAP helps families and older adults keep food on the table during tough times. Under the Senate proposal, an estimated 385,000 Ohioans, including 170,000 children, would be at risk of losing SNAP. This would be the second hit for many of our neighbors who participate in the food assistance program. An estimated 673,000 households in Ohio recently lost an average of $188 a month, when the federal government ended its pandemic emergency program.

Medicaid helps more than 3 million Ohioans get the health care they need. An estimated 220,000 Ohioans are expected to lose health coverage when they are disenrolled from Medicaid over the next year. While Gov. DeWine’s proposed budget and the budget passed by the Ohio House would soften this blow by expanding health care coverage to pregnant people and children through Medicaid, the Senate proposal removes that provision. I guess expanding health care for women and children isn’t a priority for the Ohio Senate leadership.

The budget passed by the House would make child care affordable for more working families and provide an estimated 15,000 children with child care. All parents who need child care should be able to afford it, but the Senate leadership made clear that isn’t a priority for them and mostly removed that provision.

Compared to the budget passed by the House, the Senate proposal cut funding for Ohio’s food banks, which provide food to children, families, and older adults all across the state. And it removed funding that would have made reduced price school breakfast and lunch free for students, meaning far too many kids will continue to go to school hungry.

The Senate proposal prioritizes more tax cuts that would mostly benefit the rich at the expense of children, families, and workers who are paid low wages. This is more of the same old playbook that hasn’t improved the quality of life in Ohio.

Since 2005, corporate-backed politicians have consistently prioritized tax giveaways for the wealthy and well-connected. As a result, the wealthiest 1% of Ohio households are taking home, on average, over $50,000 every year in tax breaks. Meanwhile, Ohio households making less than $65,000 are paying more on average in state and local taxes today compared to what they did in 2005. These tax breaks have drained around $8 billion a year from Ohio’s budget that could instead improve the quality of life for kids and families across the state.

This is all incredibly concerning. And it’s not over.

It’s not too late to pass a people’s budget. As lawmakers debate the state budget and the future of Ohio, let’s come together and demand that we all have an opportunity for a better life, no matter our race, zip code, or income. It is imperative that they hear from you and residents across the state that we don’t need more tax cuts for the wealthy and we do need more support for the health and well-being of kids, adults, and families.

Will Petrik is the Budget Researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. He believes that all people have the right to safety, security and quality education. As State Director of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, he helped expand Medicaid in Ohio. Because of this work, over 650,000 people now have access to healthcare coverage. In his role as Budget Researcher, Will works to advance budget and policy solutions that support the well-being of children and families in Ohio.

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

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