Despite some claims that Ohio has bounced back from the Great Recession, one look around our community and you’ll see that’s simply untrue. Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for five years straight. That’s because the majority of the jobs created recently in Ohio are low-paying, part-time jobs that lack benefits. Too many people across our district and our state are working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet and sustain their families. That’s not right.
While about one-third of our community members are eligible for food bank assistance, wealth is being concentrated among a select few. The typical Ohio household had a higher income three decades ago than it has had in the past few years.
Extreme lawmakers have watched this all unfold from the Statehouse in Columbus because they’ve prioritized tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected instead of investing in the creation of good-paying jobs and vibrant communities. To reverse course, we need a new approach that prioritizes everyday Ohioans, not just special interests and the super-wealthy.
Education could and should be the great equalizer in our society. However, in Ohio, that’s far from reality. Under Gov. Kasich, Ohio’s education system has fallen from fifth in the nation to 22nd. Instead of investing in our students and our public education system, which ensures our kids are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, politicians have increased their focus on unaccountable and unregulated charter schools. Ohioans have lost hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars to these charter schools, like ECOT, and that’s done nothing to prepare our kids for 21st century jobs.
Let’s go back to the drawing board and actually work with teachers in our public schools to determine what they need to best serve students. For too long, the few powerful people at the top have made decisions for those working on the front lines without getting their input. It’s a flawed system we can correct by bringing educators, who have our students’ best interest in mind, to the table.
Access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I have never understood why two people going to the same doctor might pay vastly different amounts for the same service. It’s a broken system, and we deserve better. Especially because the opioid epidemic has taken hold of our state, and Ohio leads the nation in accidental overdose deaths.
We can’t go back to a time when preexisting conditions held people back from receiving care – from preventive services to life-saving treatments. And we need to maintain Medicaid expansion so that our neighbors and friends, regardless of their income, have access to health care. But we must take a step further and fix our system so it works for everyone.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen politics change – for the worse. It’s become about fear, anger and dividing people. Tactics that pit Americans against each other, based on our race, socio-economic status or gender, are meant to distract us from the true issues and challenges we face.
So many people have come together to recognize hate and anger is not the way forward for our country. Because we know that when we work together and show compassion toward each other, we get things done.
Part of the solution is increasing the number of different, experienced voices in elected offices – that includes women and people of color who are underrepresented in our government at every level.