Food bank leader worries cuts in the Senate budget proposal will hurt low-income Ohioans
Advocates for Ohioans who depend on food assistance are worried about the working budget senators unveiled Tuesday afternoon.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks said the Senate draft budget proposal cuts funding for some provisions that were in the plan the House passed. She said those include the expansion of school breakfasts and lunches.
"It's really sad. It's short-sighted, especially when the state just has incredible resources to make those investments and instead they have chosen to cut taxes to the wealthiest Ohioans," Hamler-Fugitt said.
Hamler-Fugitt said there are a lot of low-income Ohioans who need the food her facilities provide, as well as other social services. And she said there's not much in the Senate budget for them.
"A lot of the programs that people depend on — working folks, the one-out-of-every-two Ohioans who are not making ends meet — have been basically stripped from the budget. We had a very solid House-passed budget that prioritized many of the most basic needs and that just appears to be completely stripped out of the Senate version," Hamler-Fugitt said.
Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said some of the changes were made to safeguard the future funding for programs like food banks and child care for low-income families.
Huffman said the method that's often been used to fund those programs involves the use of federal matching dollars. And over time, he said he's worried that will cause a deficit for the state.
"They're doing great work. I don't doubt that," Huffman said. "But we have to decide, are we going to use grant dollars to fund these programs? And if we do, that means less money for all the other things — the schools, things that we do, Medicaid, other Medicaid providers and all of that. So everybody's getting funded, but everyone's going to — we're going to have to have a conversation about this."
Senators are working on this budget, and the full chamber plans to vote on it in the coming days. A two-year state operating budget needs to be passed by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine by the end of this month.