Please join us for the first lobby day on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015. To RSVP, please email Julie Parsley at firstname.lastname@example.org. A briefing from OEA’s lobbyists will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the Media Center at OEA Headquarters (225 East Broad Street, Columbus, 43215). Parking is available at nearby surface lots, in the parking garage just south of the OEA building or at parking meters located on 5th & Broad Streets.
Please be sure to schedule a meeting with your legislators prior to attending lobby day. Contact information for members of the House and Senate can be found by going to www.legislature.state.oh.us.
If you can’t make it for the March 18th Lobby Day, others dates have been scheduled and are listed below.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 (Tentative)
For more information on participating in OEA Member Lobby Days, please contact OEA Government Relations at 1-800-282-1500.
Last week the Ohio House of Representatives introduced approximately 25 bills. The first one – House Bill 1 (R-Schuring) – seeks to establish the Ohio Workforce Grant Program. The intent of the program is to encourage students to pursue occupations that are in-demand. A list of these occupations can be found by clicking here.
The program will provide up to $5,000 to students on an annual basis. One-third of the grant will be distributed to the recipient at the beginning of the academic year. The remainder will be distributed in equal installments throughout the year upon successful completion of milestones adopted by the Chancellor. These milestones include spending between 30 and 90 days of training in a workplace of an in-demand field; the completion of counseling on how to manage student loan debt; and completion of curriculum. Students who graduate with a certificate or a degree as part of the program will be eligible for up to a 25 percent tax credit on their student loans. The bill appropriates $100,000,000 over the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 biennium to fund the program.
On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, the Senate Education Committee held its first hearing of the new session of the General Assembly. The committee heard testimony from Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Richard Ross about his recently completed report on recommendations to reduce the burdensome time currently devoted to standardized testing. Ross stated that the recommendations, if enacted, would reduce the time spent on testing by approximately 20%.
The report states that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will take a number of actions to address the testing issue. These actions include:
- Working with the federal government to advocate for flexibility in the testing system.
- Monitoring the first administrations of the new tests.
- Finding ways to use a single test for multiple purposes.
- Exploring whether new state tests can be used for gifted identification.
The report also made a number of legislative recommendations that require a change in law. These recommendations include:
- Limiting the amount of time a student takes state and district tests to two percent of the school year.
- Limiting the time spent practicing for tests to one percent of the school year.
- Eliminating the fall administration of the third grade reading test while providing an opportunity to take the test in the summer for students who need it.
- Making math and writing diagnostic tests in the first through third grades optional.
- Eliminating the use of student learning objectives (SLOs) as part of the teacher evaluation system.
The full report on testing and recommendations from ODE can be viewed by clicking here.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced that she plans to hold several weeks of hearings on the issue of testing. Next week the Committee will hear from school district superintendents. Future hearings are planned for teachers, school board members and the general public.
OEA has extended the following awards deadline to February 16, 2015. Would you please review the Awards and Scholarships applications that can be accessed electronically from the OEA Members Only Area of the OEA website at www.ohea.org, click on OEA Local Leaders and then Grants and Awards and encourage members to participate by submitting the applications/nominations by that date.
- Marilyn Cross Scholarship ($2,000)
- Human and Civil Rights Awards
- Peace and International Relations Award
- Blue Ribbon Association Award ($500)
- OEA Media Award for Public Service
- OEA Friend of Education Award
House Bill 472, the mid-biennium review, proposes to lower state income taxes by 8.5 percent over the next three years and reduce the highest income tax rate to 4.88%. Governor Kasich plans to pay for the income tax cut by increasing taxes on cigarettes over a two-year period, as well as increasing the commercial activity and severance taxes. The income tax cut is expected to reduce revenue by more than $2.1 billion over three years. Even when coupled with other tax changes, Ohio will lose an estimated $174 million in the General Revenue Fund over that period.
State aid to local school districts is currently $514 million less than it was three years ago under the previous administration. School districts could utilize additional funding to support much needed technology upgrades to administer new student assessments, support the continued implementation of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, expand access to all-day kindergarten and early childhood education, and more easily update school security systems.
Trading stable, progressive revenue from the income tax with undefined sources like the severance tax, is fiscally irresponsible.
Investing in our students and communities will strengthen Ohio’s economy.
While the tax package does include provisions that benefit lower income Ohioans such as an expanded higher Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is non-refundable, the proposal further shifts the tax burden away from those who can most afford to pay taxes.
According to the Institute on Taxation an Economic Policy (ITEP) and Policy Matters Ohio, the proposal would cut annual taxes for the top 1 percent (those earning over $1 million) by $2,847, compared to the middle fifth of taxpayers ($34,000-$54,000) who would see their taxes cut by an average of $13.
Take action today! Tell legislators that while House Bill 472 proposes increasing certain taxes, the revenue would go towards yet another round of income tax cuts that predominately favor wealthy Ohioans. Urge legislators not to support Kasich’s proposed income tax cuts and instead invest in Ohio’s students and public education.