(The Center Square) — A state senator from Toledo is blasting Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to cut funding to public schools as part of a move to reduce spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Governor DeWine’s decision to slash more than $300 million from Ohio’s K-12 funding is an alarming divestment from our public school system during a time when schools need more support than ever,” state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, said in a statement. “Nearly half of the $775 million total in cuts to General Revenue spending will be stripped from Ohio’s public schools, which continue to serve more than 90% of children in our state.
“Public schools have become lifelines to communities throughout the pandemic,” Fedor added. “With only a few days’ notice, educators found new ways to provide students with free meals, Wi-Fi hotspots and so much more. Our public schools are already being asked to do more with less and announcing these drastic cuts on Teacher Appreciation Day was a devastating blow to the professionals who are heroes to Ohio’s students.”
On Tuesday, DeWine announced a $775 million budget reduction in General Revenue Fund (GRF) spending for the rest of the fiscal year.
“If we don’t make these cuts now, the cuts we will have to make next year will be more dramatic,” DeWine said in a tweet defending the decision.
In addition to the K-12 spending cut, DeWine said he is slashing $110 million for higher education. In making the announcement, the governor said he would not tap into the state’s rainy day fund.
“As we have all seen, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the American economy,” DeWine said. “And Ohio’s economy as well. Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio’s economy was strong and our budget was on track.
“For example, by the end of February, state revenues for the fiscal year were ahead of estimates by over $200 million,” he added. “We now have the figures in through the month of April, and our fiscal year-to-date revenues have taken a dramatic turn.”
The governor’s decision to cut budgets was also met with criticism from Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal-leaning think tank.
“Ohio stands strongest when we stand together. The early stages of our response to #COVID made that clear,” the organization said in a tweet. “Now, as the powerful try to divide us, unity is more important than ever. (DeWine’s) cuts do the opposite: They put programs that help people on the chopping block.”
Todd DeFeo is a Center Square contributor