Let’s make Ohio work for working-class families

May 10, 2023 3:20 am

HOUSTON, TEXAS – AUGUST 15: Cartons of eggs are seen for sale in a Sprouts Farmers Market on August 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Egg prices steadily climb in the U.S. as inflation continues impacting grocery stores nationwide. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Every family in Ohio should be able to put food on the table and have a roof over their heads.

But today, too many children go to bed hungry and too many working people are underpaid. Over the last two decades, corporate-backed politicians have prioritized tax giveaways to the wealthiest Ohioans over the economic security of children and families. The proposed tax change in the budget approved by the Ohio House is basically more of the same, despite what proponents are saying. It’s not too late for lawmakers to pass a budget that promotes dignity and security and puts more money back in the pockets of working families.

Four of the 10 most common jobs in Ohio don’t pay enough to feed a family of three without food assistance. In 2021, over 386,000 children didn’t consistently have enough food to live an active, healthy life. Growing up in constant insecurity and stress harms children and limits their future opportunities. Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to do worse in school, have health problems and get involved with the criminal legal system as adults.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

If we want to improve outcomes for kids, state lawmakers need a new playbook. Since 2005, lawmakers in the majority have consistently chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. As a result, the wealthiest 1% of Ohio households are taking home, on average, over $50,000 every year in tax breaks. Meanwhile, Ohio households making less than $65,000 are paying more on average in state and local taxes today compared to what they did in 2005. These tax breaks have drained around $8 billion a year from Ohio’s budget that could be improving the quality of life of kids and families across the state.

The budget recently passed by the Ohio House follows the same old strategy by including more tax cuts that mostly benefit wealthy Ohioans. The wealthiest 20% of households (those making more than $124,000) would get more than 50% of the overall tax cut and people making $26,050 or less wouldn’t get a dime back in their pocket. Under the House-passed budget, many Ohioans will see their taxes increase, including an individual making $46,100, who would see a tax increase of $30.

Instead of more tax cuts for the wealthy, let’s create a Thriving Families Tax Credit that would put more money back in the pockets of nearly a million families in Ohio with an average tax refund of roughly $1,000 a year.

Let’s give the people of Ohio what they want: 77% of likely voters in Ohio support a state tax credit, such as the Thriving Families Tax Credit, for low-to-moderate income families with children. 71% of likely voters in the state support increasing taxes on the rich by adding new tax brackets for residents making over $250,000 and over $500,000.

Research shows that refundable tax credits improve family financial stability and children’s health, education, and economic outcomes. As a result of the expanded federal child tax credit, over a million families had more money to pay the rent and put gas in the car and food on the table. Nationally, child poverty fell to a record low of 5.2% in 2021.

As lawmakers debate the budget and the future of Ohio, it is imperative that they support policies that promote family security and stability. The Thriving Families Tax Credit would do just that by providing families with the resources they need to thrive.


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Will Petrik
Will Petrik

Will Petrik is the Budget Researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. He believes that all people have the right to safety, security and quality education. As State Director of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, he helped expand Medicaid in Ohio. Because of this work, over 650,000 people now have access to healthcare coverage. In his role as Budget Researcher, Will works to advance budget and policy solutions that support the well-being of children and families in Ohio.