The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

December 5, 2013

Patterson proposes way to increase Straight A fund

COLUMBUS — State Reps. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, and John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, introduced legislation to grow the state’s “Straight A” fund with some $400 million in expected budget savings from Medicaid expansion.

“This is a real opportunity to prioritize our children’s education at a time when our local schools have been devastated by state budget cuts,” Patterson said. “So many schools throughout the state have been working hard to stabilize our children’s education with very limited means.”  

This month, the Ohio Department of Education will notify the final “Straight A” fund grant recipients of their award status. An alarming number of schools applied for the program that provides funds for schools to implement student achievement and efficiency projects.

To date, of the original 569 applications for funding, 210 proposals have been rejected. The remaining 359 proposals are seeking roughly $560 million, which is far more than the $250 million available over the next two years.

“It is the state’s obligation to provide an adequate and equitable education for all of our children, and in recent years the state has moved in the wrong direction,” Rogers said. “We understand the variety of needs in the many areas around our state. And this is one proposal that could help Ohio better meet its responsibility to our children while being a good steward of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. We can’t afford to turn our backs on public education.”

Since Gov. Kasich took office, local school funding has been cut by roughly half-a-billion dollars. The number of school funding levies since Gov. John  Kasich took office has increased dramatically—so has the dollar amount of proposed local tax increases. The added downward pressure on local taxpayers comes at a time when the state is sitting on $1.5 billion in cash reserves, in addition to the expected Medicaid savings.

The proposed legislation would increase the Straight A Fund by $404 million over the next two years and would use funds exclusively from the savings realized by Medicaid expansion.  If the expected savings from Medicaid expansion do not equal $404 million, the bill allows the Director of Budget and Management to adjust the appropriations accordingly.

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