By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH
Columbus, Ohio – As state lawmakers work on Ohio’s budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, there’s a grassroots call for the budget to reflect policies that protect and care for all Ohioans and communities.
The Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Policy Matters Ohio unveiled their “People’s Budget” on Tuesday, which the groups say will ensure the government is working for its people. (You can read the People’s Budget below)
Portage County Treasurer Brad Cromes joined the release, saying budgets are moral documents and should reflect that.
“For too long, we have been saying that the financial wellness of a very few is more important than the financial wellness of everybody in the state,” he said, “and that’s got to change if we’re ever going to start moving our state forward.”
The People’s Budget features seven demands: quality education, safe communities, economic dignity, care for caregivers, stability for families, a working health-care system, and a category known as “Funding Our Lives.” It’s an alternative to Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget proposal released in February.
Tia Ferguson shared her struggles working as a substitute teacher in Columbus without paid leave. After giving birth to a stillborn son, Ferguson said she had to return to work before she was emotionally ready. She contended that with economic stability, other aspects of life will fall into place.
“If your child care is funded, that’s a worry that you don’t have,” she said. “So, you can make sure that you’re taking the time to go back to school and get your education, so you can further your career. But if you don’t have that foundational piece set, then all the other aspects don’t even come into play.”
State Rep. Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, said a “people’s budget” is about paying attention and being flexible enough to make adjustments when people really need them. She said she thinks state leaders should take the lead in addressing the discrimination faced by people of color in education, health care, housing, and more.
“Declaring racism as a public health crisis is needed more now than any time, ever,” she said. “We could be on the forefront of what it really looks like to lift up racial equity and social justice.”
Specific provisions of the People’s Budget include tax code reforms, increased funding for education, and investments in housing, anti-hunger programs, and maternal health.
This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.
Mary’Schuermann’ Kuhlman is an Ohio-based broadcast journalist who joined the Public News Service team in 2008. Previous experience includes radio news reporting and anchoring for WHIO-AM in Dayton and WTAM 1100 in Cleveland. She’s produced hundreds of stories across the country for PNS over the years, served as an assignment editor and helped launch the PNS Daily Newscast in 2012. Mary currently covers beats in Ohio and other Midwestern states, and co-anchors 2021Talks, a PNS newscast tracking politics and elections.
A budget that cares for all of us
The future of Ohio depends on a fair, equitable, and people-centered budget that cares for all of us — no exceptions.
We Ohioans believe in taking care of one other, no matter our skin color, our ability, or how much money we have. But for nearly two decades, our elected officials have passed a state budget that does not meet our needs or provide us with opportunities to thrive.
Instead, the wealthy few and corporations have hoarded wealth, lining their pockets at the expense of our schools, hospitals, and child care centers. That is why we are demanding a People’s Budget.
Our Seven Demands
1. Quality Education
For all Ohio students to thrive and pursue their dreams, regardless of how much money they have or what they look like.OUR DEMANDS
2. Safe Communities
For Ohio to be a place of freedom and justice for all, where our families can be whole and safe.OUR DEMANDS
3. Economic Dignity
For all Ohioans to have a home to make memories, see a doctor when we are sick, and put food on the table.OUR DEMANDS
4. Care for Caregivers
An Ohio that respects and lifts up BIPOC women and the people who care for our families.OUR DEMANDS
5. Stability For Our Families
For every Ohioan regardless of color or income to be cared for if and when they fall on hard times.OUR DEMANDS
6. A Working Health Care System
For all Ohioans to receive the very best care and see a doctor when we are sick, no exceptions.OUR DEMANDS
7. Funding Our Lives
An Ohio where everyone has the opportunity for a better life, no matter what we look like or how much money we have.OUR DEMANDS