COLUMBUS – Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus expressed dissatisfaction with the final version of the budget that was sent to Governor Kasich.

“The Conference Report selects a fiscally irresponsible and reckless path to temporarily balance the State Budget. This is not how we build a better future for our state or ensure every Ohioan has a fair shot in life," said Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood), Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee. "We are turning our backs on folks who are working hard but will not have healthcare coverage in the workplace. We are denying people valuable medical services in the state. Our goal as a state should be to increase coverage for medical care and not to restrict it.”

This budget, agreed on by both the Ohio House and Senate, will make cuts to local governments, agencies, and to Medicaid funding. It will also place a freeze on Medicaid enrollment beginning July 2018. The Kasich administration says this will result in 500,000 Ohioans losing their healthcare. Additional budget provisions place work requirements and monthly premiums on those enrolled in Medicaid. 

The budget also shifts money away from the Local Government Fund to fight the opioid crisis. It makes cuts in school funding for many inner city and urban area schools.  While most agencies will see cuts, additional money will go towards controversial and poorly regulated “crisis pregnancy centers.” Other budget provisions would weaken charter school sponsor evaluations and give the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) the power to overrule the Ohio Department of Education in its audits of charter schools. 

Last week, the Senate Democratic Caucus offered amendments aimed at closing the $1 billion budget shortfall. With the money from the Democrats’ plan, agencies, local governments, and schools would see no cuts in funding and $200 million dollars would be used in fighting the opioid crisis. This could be accomplished by closing the failing LLC loophole, a tax cut that less than 12 percent of Ohioans used in 2015. This plan was rejected by the GOP majority.

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements after Amended Substitute House Bill 49 passed the Senate on Wednesday:

Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), Senate Minority Leader:

“I understand that we are facing a budget shortfall, but it is simply not right to make up that deficit on the back of Ohio’s children, workers, elderly, and poor.

“Today, I voted in opposition of this bill because I cannot, in good conscience, support a bill that cuts a billion dollars from vital governmental services, which will further burden our local governments and communities. And all while the Senate Democrats have found a way to not only avoid slashing funding from our current State budget, but also provide an additional $1 billion to support good paying jobs, quality education, affordable health care, and strong and safe communities for all.”

Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), Assistant Senate Minority leader:

“We had an opportunity in this budget to give every Ohioan a fair shot at success. Instead, the General Assembly decided to pick winners and losers. If you are wealthy and successful, and you don’t suffer from any chronic illness or struggle with addiction, you are going to be a winner under this budget. If you are part of the 0.5% of the state workforce making over $250,000 a year, but are getting nearly half of the benefit from the states ‘small business tax break,’ congratulations you are a winner.

“If, however, you receive Medicaid through the expansion and you live in a county with high unemployment or you work seasonally, you just lost out in this budget. If your local community is struggling to provide basic services because of the cuts made to local government fund, then this budget has let you down. The legislature has not passed a budget that helps alleviate poverty in our state; this budget simply punishes the poor for not being rich.”

Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo), Senate Minority Whip:

“As a caucus, one of our budget priorities was to improve access to quality healthcare for all Ohioans. Instead, the Republicans proposed a Medicaid freeze that will cause 500,000 Ohioans to lose their health insurance, according to the Kasich administration. The additional unreasonable work requirements and monthly premiums for Medicaid recipients will only further burden our most vulnerable citizens and decrease their access to healthcare. I don’t see how we can justify this bill.”

Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), Assistant Senate Minority Whip: 

“It’s unfortunate that the majority members of the Senate have chosen to ignore the business tax loophole that is assisting the wealthy. This continues to shift the financial burden onto local governments. This bill also takes money from local governments to fight the opioid crisis, instead of ending the tax loophole. And placing a freeze on Medicaid is a provision without heart. For these and several other reasons, I cannot support this budget.” 

Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman):

"Even though our caucus was able to get some good provisions added to the budget, it still does more harm than good. We increased funding to fight the opioid crisis, but we took that money from local governments on the front lines of the crisis. Instead of finding a sustainable way to fund our schools and communities, we kept a tax loophole that hasn’t created any jobs and cut the schools and communities instead.  

"In addition, the Kasich administration tells us 500,000 Ohioans will their insurance under this budget’s Medicaid freeze. This budget hurts the most vulnerable citizens of Ohio in many different ways. Because of that, I voted no."

Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron):

“This budget will continue to perpetuate unnecessary hardships and greater heartaches for the next two years due to lack of funding for education, healthcare, and local government, Easing the tax burden would be one thing, but creating tax breaks that benefit a small few while a majority of Ohioans struggle under fewer services is an ineffective approach.”

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