Ohio Budget Underfunds Schools, Transit, Local Government
Policy Matters releases new
analysis of 2020-21 state budget
By Wendy Patton Zach
Special to The Truth
Ohio lawmakers appropriated
$48.8 billion in state dollars in the 2020-21 General
Revenue Fund, an increase of $3.7 billion over the previous
two-year budget. New analysis from Policy Matters Ohio shows
the increase will benefit certain programs, especially ones
that serve at-risk children, but many crucial programs and
services remain starved for resources.
“How we raise and spend
money reflects what we value,” said report author and Policy
Matters Senior Project Director Wendy Patton. “Ohio’s
leaders say they want to help working people get ahead,
provide great schools for all kids, and get treatment to
Ohioans struggling with addiction. Most Ohioans also want
these things, but without state support, we can’t deliver
Important things are
underfunded or left out of the state budget:
Formula funding for K-12 is
lower than in 2005, adjusted for inflation and enrollment.
State support for human
services in the General Revenue Fund, besides Medicaid, is
11.5% below 2006 levels.
Lawmakers failed to fund
more slots for public preschool and did not expand initial
eligibility for public child care to help more hard-working
curtailing the $1 billion LLC Loophole, but the budget
contained just a small improvement that legislators later
Lawmakers made improvements,
but not enough to offset years of harm:
Lawmakers increased the
Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps workers with children,
but didn’t make it refundable, key to helping the
lowest-paid working families.
The transportation budget
boosted the gas tax, raising an additional $865 million
annually for highways and contributing to an increase of
$633 million (12%) to local government. This still leaves
urban counties and big cities below past funding levels.
Lawmakers nearly doubled
transit funding, but state support remains far below what
the Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2015 study said was
An additional $72 million
for need-based college aid will help students, but lawmakers
retained structural problems that leave out or shortchange
students at community colleges and at Ohio’s only public
historically black university.
$675 million to the Student
Success and Wellness Fund supports health, mental health and
other services for students in poverty, but funds for
classroom teaching will be eroded by inflation.
At least $182 million is
provided in the budget to help reduce Ohio’s high infant
Lawmakers boosted state
psychiatric hospitals by $55.5 million; increased treatment
and prevention by $72.2 million; and brought program funding
for addiction-affected families to an additional 30
Lawmakers doubled state
support for child protective services; boosted funding for
indigent legal defense by $152 million; and added $20
million to address the lead poisoning crisis.
A new H2Ohio Fund allots
$172 million to clean lakes and waterways: This can start
fixing Ohio’s poisoned lake and waterways, but lacks the
size and duration of funding proposed by Governor DeWine.
“In this budget, lawmakers
left out working families in so many ways,” said Patton.
“Income tax cuts take $330 million away from communities to
give it to the wealthiest. By 2021, Ohio will dole out
nearly $10 billion in tax breaks. These policies keep Ohio
from living our values.”