Senate District 15
Hearcel F. Craig
Craig Announces Vote Against Senate's Version of State Budget
June 9, 2021
Today, Assistant Minority Whip Hearcel F. Craig announced that he voted against House Bill 110, the state operating budget. All members of the Democratic Caucus joined in opposition. 

“I am disappointed in the budget passed by the Senate today and deeply concerned about the impact it will have on families and workers. The state budget should prioritize fairness and equality, and create opportunities for all Ohioans,” Craig said. “Unfortunately, the Senate proposal fails to invest in children’s education, quality childcare and broadband infrastructure, while cutting taxes for the wealthy and putting cities’ budgets and the crucial services they provide at risk. There are still ways we could meet in the middle and our caucuses must work in good faith for the communities in Ohio over the next few weeks to get us there.”

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. 

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.  

“Making such a significant retroactive change to our tax policy for a tax year that ended almost six months ago will have a detrimental impact on our municipalities,” said Craig. “We all made a promise to Ohio cities to hold them harmless from some of the fiscal impacts the pandemic would have on their revenue, but this provision could negatively affect municipalities’ ability to provide emergency services and other critical services.”

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.

“Although we are expanding childcare eligibility, removing the requirement that publicly-funded childcare centers be rated by Step Up to Quality will worsen the quality of childcare centers in Ohio and further widen the gap between low-income and high-income children,” Craig said. “We need to invest in better childcare to support working families and give children better opportunities in life.”

However, Craig 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. 

Senate Democrats believe that more work needs to be done during the conference committee to improve education, tax and childcare policies.
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