The Columbus Dispatch
Kasich: Budget can
handle only 1% school-funding increases
By Randy Ludlow
Gov. John Kasich said he wishes he had more to hand out as he presented
innovation awards to Ohio educators and students Tuesday afternoon.
"I'd like to give you money, but all I can give you are plaques,"
Kasich joshed seconds after mentioning a bare-bones bottom line for
K-12 schools in his upcoming state budget.
Kasich said his state budget recommendations for the next two years -
expected to be unveiled Monday - will include annual funding increases
of but 1 percent for elementary and secondary education.
"It's a very tough budget," the governor said. "We don't have any more
Kasich will recommend a funding increase of about $200 million over two
years for public schools, a spokesman said, after an overall K-12
funding increase of $1.5 billion during Kasich's six years in office.
The second-term Republican also revealed that state public universities
and colleges will be recommended for increases in "the same area" as
K-12 when he unveils his final budget.
Since 2011, fellow Republicans in the General Assembly have never met a
Kasich K-12 budget that they've liked.
The pattern has involved Kasich suggesting funding formulas that leave
some school districts as losers, with lawmakers rewriting the budget to
make all districts whole and boost overall spending.
In the current state budget, schools and the Department of Education
received increases, including property tax subsidies and Lottery funds,
of 3.8 percent in 2015-16 and 4.4 percent this school year, reaching a
total of $10.6 billion, according to the Legislative Service Commission.
The governor has signaled for months that his last spending proposal
will be financially hamstrung by depressed tax collections coming in
under estimates and even has spoken of a possible recession.
Kasich spent more than two hours on Tuesday celebrating the innovation
of seven schools and districts across Ohio, including the Cristo Rey
Network (and its 330-student high school in Columbus) and Marysville
City Schools in Union County.
Cristo Rey, which also has Catholic schools in Cleveland and
Cincinnati, was honored for partnering with local business to give
students work-study experience five days a month, setting the stage for
students to attend college.
Marysville schools were honored for a comprehensive effort to battle
drug use among students, including programs in which high-school
students and community members mentor at-risk elementary pupils. The
effort involves parents discussing the dangers of heroin and other
drugs with their children.
Kasich long has lobbied for community involvement in battling opiate
addiction and overdose deaths.
"I can't drive it from up here," he said. "This is how we're gong to
kill the drug problem ... from the bottom.”