Today, state Senator Williams announced that she voted against House Bill 110, the state operating budget. All members of the Democratic Caucus joined in opposition.
“Although I was hopeful that I would be able to support H. B. 110, unfortunately this budget bill could destroy our local governments and unconscionably put many of our municipalities in unexpected financial crisis,” Williams said.
H. B. 110 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. 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.
“House Bill 197, which was unanimously passed by the legislature, was enrolled to hold cities harmless from the fiscal impact pandemic-related safety measures would have on their revenue,” said Williams. “This provision breaks that promise to our cities. I do not support unnecessarily and unexpectedly changing the rules in the middle of the of the game.”
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.
Furthermore, the budget passed by the Senate replaces the House-passed Fair School Funding Plan with a plan that:
Although voting in opposition, Williams supports 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.
“There are certainly some positive provisions in this budget,” Williams said. “However, it does not lay the foundation for economic recovery in our post-pandemic world. It also does not do enough in supporting a better future for our communities, our workers, our children, and our educational systems.”
Senate Democrats believe that more work needs to be done during the conference committee to improve education, tax and childcare policies.