The last week of June was a busy week for the Ohio legislature, as they worked to pass legislation and quickly get bills signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
One of the most important bills was the state budget, which DeWine did sign. Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the components of the state budget, various voting bills and infrastructure.
Burga was relatively pleased with what was in Ohio’s recently signed biennial budget for 2022 to 2023. Some items included within the budget will help create and save jobs, properly fund schools and more, he said.
He praised the Fair School Funding Plan, which will restore the constitutionality of Ohio’s public school funding. The state had been sued four times regarding the constitutionality of school funding and lost each suit. However, the Fair School Funding Plan was only promised for two years and legislators gave even more money to the state’s private school voucher program.
Burga also touched on budget items that will save or create jobs. For instance, there were threats to close a corrections center, but funding was restored and jobs were saved.
Additionally, funding and grants were provided to expand broadband internet. Burga said this was a key piece of infrastructure improvement following the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, solar and wind projects will receive additional funding, helping to spur job growth in the industry.
Republican-controlled legislatures have moved quickly to pass voting legislation. Burga said Ohio is not one of these states, however. The state may not see an aggressive push because of how well former President Trump performed in Ohio.
Burga did preview a bill that includes voter issues. For example, the bill will allow voters to file for or update their voter registration while doing tasks related to license renewals, getting new license plates and more. The bill also limits ballot drop boxes to one per county.
Burga said he was encouraged by President Biden and the bipartisan group of Senators who agreed on a smaller infrastructure plan. Their willingness to work together is promising after years of bitter partisanship.
Infrastructure improvement is long overdue in the U.S. and Ohio will greatly benefit from it. The bill must serve all of Ohio, not just urban Ohio or rural Ohio. This includes physical and social infrastructure.