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Coalition to DeWine: We cannot accept high levels of poverty…hunger as just acceptable

(March 4, 2019) — (March 4, 2019) On the eve of Gov. Mike DeWine’s State of the State address, One Ohio Now called for legislative leaders to raise taxes and invest in Ohio’s future, highlighting key areas where the state doesn’t measure up from job growth to infant mortality.

One Ohio Now — a nonprofit coalition of health organizations, labor unions and advocacy groups — published its fourth annual executive report, “A story through statistics: How Ohio measures up,” which lays out Ohio’s shortcomings. The report highlights one key factor, policy director Nick Bates says: Ohio is struggling to keep up.

“To build a strong economy that will work for everyone, we need to invest in the fundamentals as the state of Ohio,” Bates said. “We need to invest in safe roads and bridges, great public schools and healthy communities.”

Based on this report, One Ohio Now called for an end to “tax cutting experiments,” which slashed billions of dollars from social services, local governments and education under former Gov. John Kasich, according to Bates. Kasich approved $5 billion in cuts from income and other taxes; small businesses also saw significant tax breaks during his tenure, done in the name of job creation that has never been substantiated. The new proposals had no price tags attached.

“This cannot be our normal,” Bates said. “We cannot accept high levels of poverty, high rates of hunger, as just acceptable. … I think we can get back to lower rates of hunger. We can get back to more healthy housing economy that’s more equitable and fair for all Ohioans. We can make these things happen, but we need to make sure we make the investments.”

Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, told lawmakers to be “bold” and invest in Ohio’s millions of school children. She called to stop pumping taxpayer money into charter schools and away from traditional public schools; for a school funding formula rooted in creating quality education; and for solutions to the student debt crisis in Ohio.

Paisha Thomas of Hunger Network in Ohio and Kim Hairston of Community Development for All People want to see ladders out of poverty and attempts to root out inequality in DeWine’s upcoming biennial budget. CD4AP supports programs for affordable housing, healthy living and youth development to Columbus’s South Side.

“We need money to invest in those programs and those layers that would allow us to get down in the trenches,” Hairston said. “We need the dollars.”