As we begin a new year, a new legislative session, and deliberations over a new biennial budget, OFT will be active on many fronts to protect public education, higher education, children’s services, and our members’ rights in their workplaces. We know that we can only win on these issues with an informed and engaged membership, so we will be sending out monthly updates about our priorities and work in the legislature.
If you have any questions or would like to get more involved in our legislative efforts, please speak to your Local President, Building Representative, or your Local’s Legislative Lead.
Future updates will track specific progress of legislation, OFT’s stances, and actions you can take. Since the General Assembly is still just getting started, we'll begin by letting you know some of our legislative priorities.
School Funding and Ohio’s Biennial Budget
In December, an overwhelming bi-partisan majority of the Ohio House (87-9) voted for HB 305, the Fair School Funding Plan. This was the culmination of years of work by House Speaker Bob Cupp and Representative John Patterson. Unfortunately, the Ohio Senate majority refused to consider this legislation before the end of the General Assembly.
This means that we still have a completely broken system of school funding that is based on a formula that was found unconstitutional more than 20 years ago. It also means that school districts are still losing hundreds of millions of dollars due to deductions for charter schools and private school vouchers.
Our priority is a fair school funding formula and direct state funding for charters and vouchers. We will also be supporting commonsense policy changes to increase revenue so that we can fully fund our future with investments in K-12 education, higher education, and children’s services.
We will be working to maintain and strengthen retirement security for our active and retired members. Potential legislation on retirement includes allowing the Ohio Channel to cover pension meetings and mandating the disclosure of private equity fees, both of which would improve transparency and accountability for STRS, SERS, and OPERS. Stay tuned for a more comprehensive update on our retirement work toward the end of the month.
We support legislative efforts to reduce the student debt burden in Ohio. These efforts are the right thing to do for Ohio students, and will also help keep more students enrolled in Ohio’s colleges and universities providing job security for faculty and staff.
K-12 Education Policy
Other issues that are overdue for legislative action include providing alternatives to end-of-year exams due to the challenging academic environment of this pandemic; fixing Ohio’s broken school report card system; ending Academic Distress Commissions; and testing reform.
There will be many challenges this legislative session, but we can make strong progress by staying united and standing up for Ohio’s future. We will need our members to engage their state legislators in discussing our education priorities starting with the need for a fair school funding plan with no deductions.