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OEA: ‘No excuses. Pass the Fair School Funding Plan now.’

[June 17, 2021] With just days left until the state budget deadline, Ohio House and Senate leaders who are meeting to finalize a deal have once again been presented with irrefutable evidence that the state’s unconstitutional school funding system can finally be fixed once and for all right now. As Ohio Director of the Office of Budget and Management Kimberly Murnieks told conference committee members Thursday, state revenue is $1.8 billion above original projections for this fiscal year, leaving more than enough money at its disposal than originally estimated to fund the bipartisan House-passed Fair School Funding Plan and even implement it more quickly than initially proposed. Murnieks further told lawmakers they have an additional $3 billion more to spend in the next two fiscal years than original budget projections, as Ohio’s economy continues to quickly rebound from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fair School Funding Plan would only require about ½ of that to be fully funded in this biennium.

“Every single student in Ohio deserves a world-class education, no matter where they live, what they look like, or how much money their families or their neighbors make. Ohio’s lawmakers have the once-in-a-generation chance right now to deliver on that promise, and the state has the resources to make it happen,” Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Scott DiMauro said. “The lawmakers who continue to push for a continuation of the status quo under the partisan Senate school funding plan were put on notice today: There is zero excuse not to fix our school funding system right now.”

The Fair School Funding Plan was developed over the last three and a half years through scores of public meetings and with input from school finance experts, educators, and community members. It has twice passed the Ohio House with wide bipartisan support and would provide a permanent, predictable formula to ensure all public school students in Ohio can get the resources they need to succeed while ending the state’s unconstitutional overreliance on local property taxes to fund our schools.

While critics of the Fair School Funding Plan have made misleading claims about the sustainability of the Fair School Funding Plan, confirmation from the Office of Budget and Management about the amount of funding available for the Fair School Funding Plan today makes those claims moot.

“Not only is there plenty of money in the state coffers to fully implement the Fair School Funding Plan for Ohio’s kids, there is enough to phase it in fully in this biennium, rather than over the next six years, removing just about any potential question marks about fully-phased in costs,” DiMauro said. “Even if they wait to fully fund it until next biennium, knowing what they know about the state’s flush finances, Ohio’s lawmakers should set aside the additional phase-in funding for future legislatures so there will be zero question in the next budget cycle about whether the revenue will be there to deliver for Ohio’s kids. They’ve waited too long for a school funding system that meets their needs; now, there is no reason they can’t have the fairly and fully funded schools they deserve.”

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