One Ohio Now Statement on Senate Finance Committee Budget Coalition Calls on Senate to Consider Balanced Approach

For Immediate Release: June 2, 2011 Contact: Andrea Fejes 614- 420-2027

Columbus, Ohio – This week’s Senate Finance Committee’s acceptance of changes to the state budget reflects a misguided approach to meeting Ohio’s needs. The legislature needs to consider a balanced approach that includes revenue, in order to meet today’s needs and invest in what matters most to Ohio. The legislature could accomplish this partly by reviewing and reducing the more than $7 billion given up every year in tax breaks, credits and deductions. These tax expenditures are spending by another name. The bill now in front of the Senate Finance Committee provides for a review of these tax expenditures, which is a commendable first step. However, no target is set for reducing them in the budget. The Senate should include a meaningful reduction of exemptions, credits and deductions in its final bill. That should be just one piece of the additional revenues needed to avoid drastic cuts to basic services like schools, local governments and human services. Increased funding of $115 million over the biennium in the Senate offers some cushioning of the harsh budget reductions in some school districts. However, many of the state's poorest districts have seen steep declines in their local tax bases due to eroded property values, and will suffer under the proposed budget. The cuts will hurt families in Ohio's rural counties and urban areas alike. They fall the most heavily on the areas with the greatest need and on the most vulnerable of residents - our kids. We need an approach that includes more revenue to prevent classroom size from ballooning, facilities from crumbling, and to ensure quality education in all school districts across the state. And while the Senate also attempted to soften the blow to local governments, many local communities still face huge cuts that will have a direct impact on local governments to provide services that make communities places families and businesses want to locate. These cuts will result in un-repaired potholes, less patrol cars keeping us safe and longer emergency responses. We have seen the results of these cuts – libraries have decreased hours and closed branches; access to mental health services has been reduced to those that are in dire need of help; county Job and Family Services agencies have had to serve increasing numbers of families with fewer resources; and public transit agencies have restricted services limiting people’s access to work and their communities.

Ohio has faced recessions before and every governor over the past 40 years, whether Democrat or Republican, has responded with a plan that includes revenue. A majority of other states have also responded to this crisis with a mix of spending cuts and revenue since the start of the recession. A balanced approach has helped before and we need it again. The massive decline in revenue has dug a hole for Ohio that we can’t cut our way out of. We need an approach that will meet today’s growing needs and build a foundation for tomorrow’s prosperity.

-30One Ohio Now is a coalition of over 45 member organizations ranging from those involved in health and human services and transportation to education and labor who are advocating for a balanced approach to addressing the state’s budget.

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