Today, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party made the following claim: “John Kasich is building an environment where students can actually find a job once they graduate, he has increased state aid for school funding by $1.3 billion over 2010 levels.”
It is time to set the facts straight.
Governor Kasich and his team can continue to insist that they have invested more in the education of Ohio’s children, but they are wrong and it is about time they be held accountable:
1. Mr. Kasich’s $1.3 billion figure conveniently ignores that Mr. Kasich all but eliminated state reimbursement payments to school districts for Tangible Personal Property and Kilowatt Hour tax elimination. When the state eliminated those taxes in 2005, state leaders told school districts – many of whom relied significantly on this revenue to educate children – that the state’s new Commercial Activity Tax would replace that revenue until a new stream could be found. The state lived up to that promise until 2011 when Mr. Kasich decided to all but eliminate those payments. So the reimbursements went from $1.9 billion over the biennium to $819 million – a cut of more than $1 billion over the biennium – cuts that remain in place today.
2. Mr. Kasich’s $1.3 billion figure ignores the fact that districts received more than $850 million over the 2010-2011 biennium through State Fiscal Stabilization money. The SFSF money was meant to prevent massive educator layoffs during the Great Recession. It was not meant to serve as an excuse to eliminate $850 million from children in Ohio when those revenues did return during the recovery. Yet that’s exactly what Kasich and his legislative allies have done. They claim that this was one-time federal money that they have no duty to replace. Yet the money, by federal law, had to be run through each state’s school funding formula. The reason for this was because it was meant to make up the difference between what states had been spending on education and what their depleted state revenues would allow them to spend during the Recession. When Kasich and his allies refuse to replace the money, they are saying that they don’t think Ohio’s children should have the resources they had prior to the Recession.
3. All told, when one considers that in the 2010-2011 biennium children were receiving $850 million in SFSF funds as well as $1.9 billion in TPP and kWh reimbursements, Mr. Kasich has actually cut $515 million from Ohio’s public school children. The bottom line truth is this: Children in about 3 in 4 school districts have less money coming from the state today than they did prior to Mr. Kasich taking office.
Common sense also flies in the face of Mr. Kasich’s school funding claims.
If Mr. Kasich has increased state funding to education as much as he claims, why then is the state share of education at its lowest level, relative to local taxpayer funding, since 2006? The chart below (using Ohio Department of Education data) reveals that the only time on record that the state provided a larger share of education funding was the year prior to Mr. Kasich taking office. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4 times that the state had to pick up a larger share of the cost, relative to local taxpayers. Under Mr. Kasich, the opposite is happening.
Chart created using Ohio Department of Education Interactive Reports
Once again, if Mr. Kasich has increased education funding as much as he claims, then why are the number of levies in which districts are seeking new money to fund operations up almost 30% from the similar period immediately preceding Mr. Kasich’s administration?
Mr. Kasich’s claims don’t stand up to the facts, nor do they stand up to simple common sense.
Instead of restoring funding to education, Mr. Kasich has chosen a reckless path of paying for tax cuts for the rich by eliminating money for children. This choice has had devastating consequences for our children and state. Mr. Kasich is counting on people not noticing his creative accounting, but the people of Ohio know snake oil when they see it.