Kathy Wyenandt, Opinion contributor
Ohioans need compassionate, proactive leadership in the state Senate willing to work across the aisle – not just during the pandemic, but in the future.
I call on Republican opponents in the Ohio Senate District 4 race to focus the rest of this election season on the tapestry of issues that matter most to Butler County voters. My campaign is centered on health care, jobs, education and the economy. The economic impact of social distancing illustrates the urgency of creating public policy and laws that work for people, not politicians.
A business downturn means higher unemployment in Ohio. Tax revenues will decrease, and state government will have to make hard choices on funding education and health care while still attracting high-quality, sustainable jobs. Unlike the federal government, our state cannot run a deficit or print money.
Ohio is unprepared for a recession, just as we were unprepared for the pandemic. While Gov. Mike DeWine is a leader who took necessary actions that should flatten the number of coronavirus cases, other state legislators have proven themselves ineffective on a number of issues.
Ohioans who lose jobs during the pandemic can apply immediately for unemployment benefits, yet Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is already on financially precarious footing. (This is a fund separate from the federal fund that will be used for emergency unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis.)
Ohio has already asked the feds for a federal bailout for the fund – which had the fifth-worst insolvency rate in the U.S, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Solvency Report. Even without a recession, the fund was expected to be broke by 2025, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
That’s no way to run a business, much less a state government. We need unemployment benefits that are fair and equitable for employers as well as those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
With school shutdowns, Ohio school districts scramble to provide and distribute meals for children who need them as they attempt to finish the school year learning at home. Working parents should be paid enough so they can afford to feed their children and have access to needed health care. Yet a full 21% of Ohio’s population relies on Medicaid for health care, vision and dental care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Forty-six percent of school-age children living in Butler County’s 10 school districts are economically disadvantaged and qualify for subsidized lunches at school, say Ohio Department of Education statistics. This is unconscionable in a first-world state.
We live in an Ohio that fails to work for almost half our population. Good governance means creating a system where families can afford to live and work in a community without relying on government (i.e. taxpayer) assistance. When one party dominates in government, there is little accountability for politicians who pass laws that cater to their party’s donors and political action committee base. It’s time to select Ohio Senate leadership that puts people over politics.