Ohio budget illustrates party splits

CANFIELD, Ohio – Three Mahoning Valley state representatives offered opposing perspectives on the budget process at a Columbiana and Mahoning county ag leaders’ breakfast May 4 at the Mahoning County Experimental and Educational Farm.

The breakfast came just one day after state representatives voted the state’s $44.8 billion two-year budget out of the Ohio House. It now rests in the hands of the Ohio Senate.

The process was fresh on the minds of freshman legislators Charles Blasdel, R-East Liverpool, and Ken Carano, D-Youngstown, and third term legislator Sylvester Patton, D-Youngstown.

The veteran legislator had the harshest words for the Republican majority-led budget, which followed party lines at a vote of 59-40.

Patton, who voted no on the budget, said the school funding issue that drove the budget discussion wasn’t solved. He does not expect the Ohio Supreme Court to accept the legislature’s actions as being good enough to pass the court’s muster.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a complete overhaul of the school funding system by June 15.

“We keep sending makeshift things back and I’m afraid they’re going to come down hard on us,” Patton said.

“Today’s problem is happening because we didn’t deal with school funding when we had record surplus and a record economy,” he added. “Now our backs are against the wall, there’s no money and now we’re going to deal with school funding on the backs of low and middle class working people.”

Carano agreed that the budget is unlikely to appease the court’s mandate in the DeRolph decision. “I don’t think it has a prayer of passing,” he said. “Somewhere down the line, we’ll have to pay for it.”

Blasdel, the lone Republican legislator at the breakfast, disagreed with his colleagues. “I think we have addressed the DeRolph decision.”

H.B. 1, addresses academic components of the education battle that are separate from the budget’s funding component, Blasdel said.

“This budget was about different parties’ philosophies,” he added. “It shows that there are differences in the parties.”

Ag education.

The purpose of the breakfast was to meet the legislators and explain the different ag agencies to them.

“We want to be a group that you recognize, to be known as ‘go to’ service people,” said Pete Morabito, county chairman of OSU Extension in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

OSU Extension partnered with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Farm Bureaus in both counties to present the breakfast.

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