COLUMBUS – Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus expressed frustration with their Republican colleagues' choice to make cuts to communities and services when better alternatives existed.

The Republican-led Senate passed their version of the two-year state budget bill (Amended Substitute House Bill 49) this evening and sent it to the House for concurrence. Senate Democrats had offered two alternative budget plans that would have balanced Ohio's budget and sent funding where it was most needed. Both of these proposals were rejected in favor of massive cuts across the board.

“We were told this was not going to be a pain-free budget, but our Caucus has demonstrated that it could be," said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights). "Senate Democrats aim to give every Ohioan a fair shot at good paying jobs, quality education, strong and safe communities and affordable healthcare. We presented a plan to achieve all of these goals, but it was rejected to keep a tax plan that benefits only 14% of the population and has not spurred job growth. That doesn’t make any sense. We can and should do better.” 

The Senate Democrats offered two alternative budget plans to their colleagues. The first plan is a three-step process that would end one failing tax break – which hasn’t created any jobs – in order to balance the budget and fund the state properly.

  • Step 1: End the “business investor” tax break (LLC Loophole).
    • This would bring in more than $2.2 billion over the biennium.
  • Step 2: Take approximately $1 billion in savings from suspending the LLC loophole to erase Republican budget cuts and balance the budget.  
  • Step 3: Invest the remaining funds into the following priorities:
    • Local Governments - $350 million
    • Higher Education - $200 million
    • Education - $250 million
    • Opioid Crisis - $200 million
    • Medicaid and Human Services - $200 million 

The second plan is a two-step tax fairness plan that would repeal the failing “business investor” tax break (LLC Loophole) and cut taxes for Ohioans who need the most assistance.

  • Step 1: Repeal the failing “business investor” tax break.
    • This would bring in more than $2.2 billion over the biennium.
  • Step 2: Tax relief for those who need it the most.
    • Lower the state sales tax by 0.25%
    • Energy Star sales tax holiday 
    • Income tax credit for displaced worker training
    • Income tax credit for seniors
    • Child and dependent care tax credit
    • Child tax credit
    • Education tax credit for adults
    • Refundable Earned Income Tax Credit

After both of these options were rejected, Senate Democrats offered individual amendments and packages to assist Ohio residents wherever possible.  

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

Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood), Ranking Democratic Member on the Ohio Senate Finance Committee: 

“In the simplest of terms, the budget we were asked to vote on today offers short-sighted, short-term solutions for long-term problems, such as lack of meaningful investment in working families, lack of meaningful investment in our communities, and lack of meaningful investment to increase opportunities for all Ohioans. Once more, the wealthy and big businesses will fare far better than working families under this budget.” 

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

“After deliberations on the floor today, I am left with a feeling of disappointment in my Republican colleagues. As Ohio legislators – who were elected by the people and for the people – our budget priorities were owed to the needs of those same individuals, especially our most vulnerable Ohioans. 

“We had a chance to give all Ohioans a fair shot, but we missed that opportunity. Instead, the Majority chose to produce a budget reflective of the wants of only a portion of our citizens who are in far less need than our most vulnerable.

“Our focus for this budget should have been on allocating funds to our struggling local governments, child and adult protective services, equitable health policies, and education. Instead, we have cut these vital services and abandoned those most in need. We could have balanced the budget in a better and more equitable way, but we failed to do so today.”

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

“This is a budget with many sides. If the amendments I have added remain intact post-conference committee, I will have ensured that local governments can continue to regulate poisonous lead while also establishing a lead study committee so the state can learn from Toledo’s good work on this issue. School children in high-needs areas will have increased access to summer meal programs. Public university employees will keep their sick leave and collective bargaining rights. And there are others.

“Unfortunately, this budget has too many flaws to gain my support. Perhaps most importantly, it continues the private tax subsidy that stacks the deck in favor of the wealthy. Under the Democrats’ alternative plan, by removing this single tax giveaway, we would balance our current budget and properly fund education, support local governments, battle the opioid crisis, and maintain healthcare access. Hard-working Ohioans deserve fairness. Our budget reflects our values; it should give a fair shot to everyone.”

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

“The mark of a true leader is having the courage to admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake. My Republican colleagues need to acknowledge that this tax loophole is a mistake. It’s time to stand up, be of good courage, and reject the current budget bill.”

Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman):

“We need to be investing in Ohio’s future by finding a sustainable way to fund our schools, improve our failing infrastructure, and assist our local governments. Communities need this funding in order to tackle the opioid epidemic and all the other issues they are facing. This budget does very little to address these pressing issues.”

Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron):

“Instead of supporting adequate funding to local governments or investing in programs to help local communities, this budget continues to undermine public schools, cut essential funding to social programs, and fleece public safety resources.

“It’s nice to see appropriations made toward early childhood education and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, but we’ve got to do better. Cutting taxes to spur economic growth has proved catastrophic to states that practice this ‘smaller government’ approach.

“Easing the tax burden is one thing, but creating tax breaks that benefit a few while the majority of Ohioans lose support services is an ineffective approach and the primary contributor to the state’s revenue shortage.”

 
 
 
  
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