Ohio House Minority Speaker Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, struck a bipartisan tone on Tuesday in remarks during a Dine and Dash dinner sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area.
Strahorn, who spoke at the Dayton Racquet Club, said he has to be realistic - with Democratic representatives outnumbered by Republicans 34-65 - but he believes there are people in both parties who want to “focus on the work” and solve problems
“The government is not your enemy,” said Strahorn. “You are the government and I am your employee.”
Strahorn said he has been encouraged that under new House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, Democrats now get 24-hour notice of bills before they hit the floor, whereas in the past Democrats wouldn’t know what bills were on the calendar until one or two hours before they had to vote. Strahorn called Rosenberger “an incredible gentleman.”
As leader of his caucus, Strahorn said his focus will be legislation that fosters fairness, opportunity, broader prosperity and government that works. He took aim at “tax shifting” tax cuts that reduce income taxes but have led to higher sales and property taxes.
The biggest issue facing the legislature will be the state budget, said Strahorn. He said legislators will likely grapple over continuing the Medicaid expansion and school funding. Gov. John Kasich is expected to release details of his budget proposal on Monday.
On Wednesday Rosenberger spokeswoman Brittany Warner said, “School funding is a very important but complex issue that many general assemblies have tried to address in the past.” She said Rosenberger “dedicated to making sure that all students have the best education possible” and will work to do “what is best for Ohio schools.”
Strahorn said the legislature and both Republican and Democratic governors have never properly addressed the Ohio Supreme Court’s 1997 DeRolph ruling requiring that schools be adequately funded and he called for the state to determine what it would cost to do that and then allocate that amount of money to schools.
“This is a can we’ve been kicking down the road for a long time,” Strahorn said.
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