Commentary: Grassroots Lobbyists Protest Cuts

Commentary by Michael

    On Tuesday, April 12th, more than 4,000 people gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to protest proposed cuts that would affect school funding, access to treatment, mental health programs, food subsidies, Medicaid, and other social services for many Ohioans. Governor Taft’s proposed two-year budget is projected at $49 billion, including substantial cuts in programs expected to impact low-income residents. The Campaign To Protect Ohio’s Future organized this protest in response to these proposed cuts. They have formed a coalition of 370 organizations that came together to speak out against significant cuts proposed by the Governor, and endorsed by a partisan state legislature.

    Twenty-four buses left the Municipal Parking Lot from Cleveland on this cool, gray morning to voice opposition to the proposed funding reductions. Cleveland City Council President Frank Jackson and Councilperson Pat Britt (Ward 6) rallied the assembled to speak out against the cuts, as well as to lobby for the most vulnerable of Ohio’s residents: the young, elderly, and disabled who were not in attendance.

     The State House of Representatives eventually approved the budget with only minor modifications, on the same day as this large rally. The House budget would restore Medicaid vision care and partial dental care, and some of the Disability Medical Assistance, but only for a period of approximately four months. The DA program is supposed to help low-income residents who are not on Medicaid pay for their prescriptions until they can enroll in Medicaid. The House is still planning big tax cuts for both businesses and citizens.

    Under the House passed budget, eligibility for health assistance would be reduced. Subsidies for child care would be reduced, and assistance to local governments would see dramatic reductions. The budget must still be passed by the Ohio Senate.

Copyright NEOCH, The Homeless Grapevine #70, May 2005. All Rights Reserved