Rep. Jim Buchy, Ohio House 84th District, was the invited speaker for the June 4th meeting of the Auglaize Co. Patriots. He started by pointing out that his district has the lowest unemployment and highest high school graduation levels of the state. He attributes this to the high percentage of nuclear families and strong faith in the 84th. It is in the 8 larger cities of Ohio where the problems of unemployment and 50% graduation rates are consistently found.
The Ohio budget must be balanced, but Rep. Buchy noted that the budget has grown exponentially due to the expansion of Medicaid, of the $71.5 B almost half is consumed by Medicaid. The new Office of Human Innovation is supposed to be focusing on incentivizing people to get back to work, so that funds can help the true needy. There are also private projects like the Ridge Project which teach prison inmates about how to be responsible.
The Governor’s budget was presented first, then the House debated and passed their own budget, which was lower than Gov. Kasich’s. Now the Senate will work on their budget and eventually reconcile it with the House and go to the governor for his signature.
One of the topics of most concern to the group was regarding Common Core. House bill 57, which extended safe harbor from PARCC testing to students has already passed, but several new legislative bills need support in order to minimize/repeal Common Core. These are:
HB 74, a bill that would get rid of PARCC testing. The bill also makes it so PARCC & Smarter Balance cannot have any input to what would replace the Common Core testing. It also cuts down on the number of tests.
HB 64 is the main operating budget for FY2016-2017, and includes language that would prevent Ohio from contracting with PARCC or Smarter Balance for state testing and provides more transparency in how state lottery funds are used to fund education in Ohio. It also extends safe harbor.
HB 146 would require cursive writing to be taught in all elementary schools. Common Core does not cover cursive writing.
HB 212 gives a local choice in the type of state assessment; standards-based or norm-referenced, and takes other steps to eliminate the Common Core.
All these bills should be watched and supported by calls to our representatives.
Rep. Buchy shared some good news about the pilot 4H projects that he was instrumental in establishing in public schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati. 4H teachers have been exposing students to the fundamental 4H values and getting them engaged in after school projects, which have had growing success. The FFA (Future Farmers of America) has also expanded with the goal of having clubs in all big cities in Ohio. There is now a shortage of Vo-Ag teachers in Ohio and Rep. Buchy hopes to see a college like Central State become a “Vo-Ag” school, so that the FFA programs in the high schools can send students there.
In regards to the pro-life issue, the Heartbeat bill has passed the House, but is now stalled in the Senate (again). There is also HB 117, which bars abortion after the 20 week pain level.
The Rep. Buchy was asked about HB 152 regarding Constitutional Carry, which he agrees with. Constitutional Carry would allow any law abiding citizen to carry a weapon for self defense, either open or concealed.
The last subject discussed was HB 190 regarding wind turbines. Rep. Buchy said he was not against subsidies for renewable energy, but against how much these subsidies cost the tax payers for the small return they provide in energy. He mentioned that he is also working with others on a reasonable plan for cleaning up the algae blooms in Lake Erie.
He closed by encouraging us to pray that the avian flu does not hit Ohio. This disease could have a devastatingly effect on the agricultural economy.
Rep. Buchy packed a lot of information into our hour meeting time frame and we appreciate his updates.