No matter where we live, what we look like, or what we do for a living, all Ohioans deserve the ability to live economically secure, safe, and healthy lives. When our state policymakers come together to enact policies that invest in women and their families, it strengthens our communities, builds a more equitable future, and creates opportunities for all Ohioans.
Perhaps one of the most crucial opportunities that they have to impact the lives and futures of Ohioans is through the state operating budget, a process that takes place at the start of each new legislative session every two years. The budget is the most important legislation to the operation of our state government. It sets funding priorities and lays the foundation for core policy initiatives; it is a reflection of the governor and state legislature’s priorities and values.
This afternoon, the governor held a press conference to announce his version of the state budget, outlining his funding and policy priorities for the state, officially kicking off the frenzied state budget process. As we begin to shift our attention toward the Ohio Legislature during this period of budget negotiation, we will work with partners and allies to analyze and understand what the governor included in the Executive Budget and how the members of the House can improve the budget bill to better serve women. Together, the partner organizations of the Women’s Public Policy Network will actively advocate for changes that will directly improve the lives of Ohio’s women and families. We are determined to ensure that women’s needs are prioritized and will use our collective voice to make these needs heard by our state lawmakers.
The global pandemic and accompanying catastrophic economic crisis of the last year make this an unprecedented budget cycle. At the forefront of these crises stands the reverberating call for racial justice and equality, as Black and Latinx women experience disproportionate levels of disadvantage in our current health and economic climate. Moreover, the racial reckoning our nation has faced in the last year has highlighted the need to confront the systemic racism and oppression in our economic, health care, criminal justice, policing, and education systems and make improvements that bring us closer to our goal of living in an actively anti-racist society.
We believe that the measure of success for our nation, our state, and our communities is in large part determined by the success of women. With the state budget, our state policymakers can truly make investments in Ohio’s future by supporting and prioritizing the needs of women and their families. Now is the time for state lawmakers to take bold action and build an Ohio budget that works for us all.
Below, we have included ten key provisions that policymakers should include in the state budget to address racial and gender inequalities – which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, rebuild from the economic recession we are facing, and provide women with the resources they need to thrive:
1). Strengthen the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help to lift more families out of poverty, push back against racial income disparities, and provide greater assistance to low- and moderate-income workers, particularly for working mothers of color
2). Expand access to Paid Family and Medical Leave for working Ohioans, particularly focused on providing paid leave to women, people of color, and low-wage workers who are least likely to have access through an employer
3). Increase access and affordability of quality child-care for women and families, especially as the pandemic pushes access to safe, affordable, and quality child-care out of reach for many families
4). Preserve and protect Medicaid expansion, without adding new barriers and obstacles to accessing care or increased threat of losing care
5). Utilize resources and funding to reduce incarceration and prison overcrowding, focusing the programs on community-based rehabilitation
6). Designate funding for services and programs related to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, with a focus on addressing racial and ethnic inequalities facing Black women and women of color.
7). Increase funding, resources, and staff for the Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration to more efficiently and effectively address wage theft
8). Expand and improve social safety-net services, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to better respond to the needs of low-income families, particularly through the economic crisis brought on during the pandemic
9). Boost investments to services and programs in the state of Ohio that support survivors and victims of sexual and domestic violence, specifically the Rape Crisis Fund (RCF) and the Ohio Domestic Violence (DV) Program
10). Increase access to and affordability of high-quality housing, particularly for Black women who experience disproportionately higher rates of eviction
Next week, we will release our full Budget Priorities Report to further detail why these ten priorities matter to Ohio women and outlining core recommendations for state lawmakers to pursue as the budget moves forward. Sign up for our email newsletter (select WPPN Newsletter & Updates on the right hand side bar) to receive this report and more state budget updates directly in your inbox.