Ohio House, Senate to hash out differences in state budget proposals as protesters decry funding levels

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Ohio House lawmakers on Wednesday voted not to concur with the Senate’s proposed state operating budget — triggering a conference committee that will open deliberations among the two chambers and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Representatives voted 71-23 against concurring with the Senate budget.

Several area Republicans voted in favor of concurring with the Senate. This includes Reps. Phil Plummer of Butler Twp., Rodney Creech of West Alexandria, Scott Lipps of Franklin, Bill Dean of Xenia, Thomas Hall of Madison Twp., Jena Powell of Arcanum, Bernie Willis of Springfield and Jennifer Gross of West Chester Twp.

Plummer, Gross and Hall all said they supported the large tax cuts in the Senate budget proposal.

“The Senate budget was the largest tax cut for citizens in Ohio History,” Gross said.

Before the vote, local residents were among over 100 protesters who gathered outside the Statehouse calling for changes to the Senate proposal, which the group contends does not supply adequate funding to a wide array of public services that Ohioans depend on.

One speaker at the protest was Raya Anderson, a Montgomery County single mother who received guardianship over her son, Amir, when he was 2 months old. She explained that an immediate priority for her was to obtain child care to allow her to continue in her career.

Anderson, who works full time, was above the income threshold that would qualify her for state subsidized child care, but her son was accepted into the Head Start program, which directs federal funds to local child care centers to improve the quality and capacity of child care.

“I thank God every day that for that because it was in Head Start with his quality teachers that honestly deserve a living wage that they first discovered my son’s deficiencies, they noticed some developmental delays,” Anderson said.

Protestors and organizers called for the state to revert back to the budgets proposed by either DeWine or the House. Child care was a central tenet of the governor’s proposal that was mostly approved by the House. It would have expanded edibility for state subsidized child care to an additional 15,000 Ohio children compared to the Senate. The House’s version would have committed $30 million to existing child care centers to expand their capacity, a figure the Senate halved.

Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Preschool Promise, which helps parents in some Montgomery County districts access preschool services, was at the Statehouse event and said simply restoring the governor’s proposals would be a boon to providers.

Those proposals include increasing the income threshold for working parents to access child care subsidies, providing scholarships to increase the child care workforce and providing more support for infant and toddler care.

“We don’t have enough infant and toddler child care capacity across the state,” she said.

Anderson expressed concern that inadequate funding for child care in the proposed Senate budget would keep resources, like those that helped her son, out of reach for most Ohio families.

She explained that her child care providers walked her through what the delays could be and helped her with referrals and diagnoses, paving the way for successful early intervention before he went into grade school.

“They weren’t just watching my child, they were caring for my child. They were caring for me and supporting me as a parent so I could continue to work full time and be a productive citizen,” Anderson said.

When she first adopted Amir, Anderson found that private child care would have cost 50% of her income.

“Every child deserves what my son got: high quality, affordable education, and I do mean education, with caring, supportive staff who not only supported him as a child but me as a parent,” Anderson said. “That is what we should be doing. That is what Ohio’s about.”

About the Author