Sykes Votes Against Senate Version of State Budget
June 9, 2021
Today, state Senator Vernon Sykes announced that they voted against House Bill 110, the state operating budget. All members of the Democratic Caucus joined in opposition.
“Ohioans are resilient, but this budget fails to invest in a strong recovery that gives everyone the chance to build a better future for themselves and their families,” said Sykes, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Instead, the majority is again prioritizing income tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans and depriving our state of resources that should be used to reform our unconstitutional school funding system, expand high-quality childcare, and improve our health care and criminal justice systems.”
The budget passed by the Senate replaces the House-passed Fair School Funding Plan with a plan that:
- Provides less on average for per-pupil funding;
- Significantly expands private school voucher eligibility;
- Disadvantages areas with high property wealth compared to residents’ income;
- Allows a change in one district’s property values to impact the state share for every other district in the state.
“Direct funding of all schools and providing school districts with a pathway out of an academic distress commission are positive changes made by this bill,” said Sykes. “However, the Senate’s education plan ultimately fails to seize a historic opportunity to fairly fund public schools. It’s significantly less fair, less dependable and less comprehensive, and it’s neither equitable nor adequate.”
H. B. 110 also includes a 5% income tax cut, which will primarily benefit the wealthiest Ohioans. It makes retroactive changes to the municipal income tax, which will have a devastating impact on cities across Ohio. While well intentioned, allowing those who worked remotely in a different jurisdiction than their primary workplace to file for refunds for both 2020 and 2021 presents cities with significant financial and administrative challenges.
The bill also does not provide any new funding for broadband access and lowers the standards for childcare facilities in Ohio, removing the requirement that publicly funded childcare centers be rated by Step Up to Quality. Additionally, H. B. 110 includes a provision that would allow health care and insurance providers to decline to perform or pay for services based on their moral, ethical or religious beliefs – a change that could endanger lives and allow for discrimination against LGBTQ+ patients.
However, Sykes praised the inclusion of a number of beneficial provisions in the bill, such as the direct funding of all schools, which ensures that the cost of charter schools and vouchers is not taken from the budgets of school districts when students choose to go to private or charter schools. The state budget also raises the maximum income limit for initial childcare eligibility to 142% of the Federal Poverty Level and increases reimbursement rates for home- and community-based services, adult day care centers and residential services. Additionally, H. B. 110 extends Medicare postpartum coverage from 60 to 365 days after birth and designates May as Maternal Mortality Awareness Month. Finally, the budget passed by the Senate expands the Program for Mentally Handicapped Children.
“This bill does advance several areas of public policy, including a much-needed fundingincrease for Central State,” said Sykes. “I wish we could have reached agreement in more areas, but I look forward to continuing to work with the majority as we enter the next phase of the process.”
Senate Democrats believe that more work needs to be done during the conference committee to improve education, tax and childcare policies.