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Sunday, February 10,2013

Kasich's education plan not good for Appalachian Ohio

By Debbie Phillips

This week, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management released the numbers on Gov. Kasich's school-funding plan. The results are shocking. Many superintendents, teachers, parents and taxpayers were hopeful that the plan would make progress toward providing a good education for Ohio's children. Based on what Gov. Kasich said last week, many were optimistic that we would see some progress toward a system that would provide opportunities to kids in the poorest parts of Ohio.

Why did people think this? Because Gov. Kasich said so. "This is not like some difficult thing to figure out," he said. "If you're poor, you're going to get more. If you're richer, you're going to get less."

Now that we've seen the numbers, it's clear that is not the case. Most of the poor rural districts get no additional funding, and some suburban districts, such as New Albany and Olentangy, are set to get a lot more money. New Albany is slated to receive an increase of 181 percent in 2014, and Olentangy an increase of 331 percent. These numbers don't tell the whole story for our local districts, either. The actual payments to schools in the current year appear to be higher than what is shown in the spreadsheets. This means that they may actually be getting cut. And furthermore, vouchers and scholarships are included as part of the funding levels, so that will result in a cut, as well.

Why is this happening? If you look at the governor's basic formula for equalizing local revenues, it's only designed to raise $5,000 per student. That is lower than the per-pupil funding in the year 2005, and schools are facing new mandates as well.

Essentially, Gov. Kasich cut schools to about the 2005 funding level.

Area superintendents are saying that they were misled. What is the governor's response? He says that he hasn't seen the numbers, but that it doesn't really matter. What's important is the "philosophy."

I disagree. What's important is what the plan actually does for kids — not the spin and rhetoric.

And that's not the only area of the budget that needs work. According to the latest analysis by Policy Matters Ohio, Kasich's plan to cut the income tax and expand the sales tax would benefit the richest Ohioans and harm the middle class. The wealthiest 1 percent of Ohioans would receive an average tax cut of $10,369, and the bottom 20 percent of Ohioans (making under $18,000 per year) would see an average tax INCREASE of $63.

Under Gov. Kasich's plan, services such as haircuts, coin-operated laundries and movie tickets would be taxed. I had a call from a realtor asking which part of "real estate services" would be taxed — the value of the home? The commission? No one seems to know. These are serious questions, and the answer could have an enormous impact on many local businesses.

We have a lot of work to do to try to fix this budget proposal so that it works for kids, for our communities, and for taxpayers.

I serve on the finance committee, and I would love to hear from you about these proposals. Please write or email with your questions and concerns. And please tune in. This year, for the first time, the finance committee hearings are being live-streamed on the Ohio Channel website. You can find them at the following link, by clicking on finance committee, at

If you get a chance, watch the hearings. On Tuesday, the administration will be answering questions about the tax provisions. On Wednesday, we will be hearing more about the education proposals. Send me your questions and concerns, and please stay involved. We need to work together to try to come up with a solution for our children, for our communities, and for Ohio's future.

Email me with your input on this issue, at


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