Today, the Ohio Senate gave its final approval to House Bill 166, the state’s two-year, $69 billion budget bill.
“Ultimately, I was able to vote in favor of this budget,” said state Senator and Finance committee member Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood)
. “While some concerns remain, overall, this budget makes real investments in our communities. It also shows our commitment to the people of Ohio, as we continue working to make our state the best place for people to choose to live and raise their families.”
Antonio helped secure several public health investments in the bill, including:
- $1 million per year for the Cleveland Lead Safe Coalition
- Increased money for programs supporting multi-system youth
- Public health initiatives including resources to curb the opioid epidemic through harm reduction such as syringe exchange services and increased access to Naloxone
Antonio also voiced her concern about the education measures that were not sufficiently addressed in this budget, including academic distress commissions, state report cards and graduation requirements. She also stated her disappointment in funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which have been found to provide false and medically inaccurate information to pregnant women. This is especially troubling because Antonio’s measure to support safe spacing in high infant mortality areas was removed from the bill.
Yet, the bipartisan budget includes longstanding Democratic priorities. HB 166 increases funding for affordable housing programs through the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. It includes various measures aimed at supporting Ohio’s children and families, like additional funding for children’s services and home-living programs for low income and elderly Ohioans. It also funds the H2Ohio water quality initiative through the next two years.
Having been approved by the Senate and House, the bill now goes to the governor for his signature and potential vetoes.