One thing is clear now the language of the Governor's budget bill (HB59) is available. No matter how you look at it, it is a minority budget.
First and most obviously the bill will be crafted by the Republican dominated legislature, with little input or amendment from the Democrats. This will be despite the fact that voters just a few short months ago voted for Democrats in far larger numbers than Republicans. The Republican gerrymandering of the state legislature will give Republican members a very false sense of voter support.
That false sense of support is already evident in recent polling of the Governor's budget.
Among the poll’s key findings are:
- 60% of Ohioans say public schools need more state funding to improve
- 59% say Ohio is doing too little to improve the quality of public education
- 62% say helping localities fund schools, fire and police is more important to them than reducing the state income tax
- 62% favor raising Ohio’s severance tax on oil and natural gas to the Texas rate —and using the money to offset state budget cuts to local governments
It's clear then, that a party that received minority voter support only has minority support for its budget plans.
Finally, the reason these facts come into stark relief is because of the underlying policies - policies that enhance the welfare and benefit of a minority of Ohioans over the those of the majority.
On school funding:
- The budget elevates private school vouchers and failing charter schools over traditional public schools, despite 90% of Ohio's students attending traditional public schools.
- 382 of 612 school districts see no funding increase from the previous budgets baseline, which cut $1.8 billion - causing basic state aid to fall from $5,723 to a paltry $5,000.
- Despite the Governor's promise that "the rich will get less and the poor will get more", his funding plan, where it does provide modest increases, does the exact opposite.
- The Governor goes further, threatening that if reelected his next budget would eliminate $880 million in funding guarantees that some of the poorest school districts currently receive.
These are budget decisions that are not being forced on the Governor or his legislative allies, but are instead choices being made. These choices are being made in order to further support the minority over the majority in the form of massive tax breaks.
His proposed income tax cuts has the following effect
Plainly then, the Governor's budget prioritizes income tax cuts for the wealthy. This income tax reduction will equate to approximately $4.3 billion less in revenue to the state, resulting in less revenue to support key programs like education. Since May 2011, budget cuts to public schools have forced local districts to propose about $1.1 billion in new levies.
the legislature still has a lot of time to listen to the majority of Ohioans who want a more balanced approach to the budget than the minority one being proposed. Such balance would include restoration of funding to schools and communities, not cuts to these vital services that the majority rely upon. These investments will make our state stronger and more prosperous, and have a far greater long term positive impact than many of the minority provisions being proposed.