Few people are more passionate about public education than state Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent).
Clyde, who conducted a town hall meeting at Streetsboro City Hall Monday night, said she is bothered by state cuts to public education in grades K-12.
She said while the state has more than $1 billion in its rainy day fund, "I would say it's raining in a lot of our school districts and communities. We've just taken so much away from K-12 education."
Clyde said in Gov. John Kasich's first two budgets, more than $2 billion total was cut from K-12 education. She said since the state's 2010 budget was approved, the Streetsboro City School District has lost about $3.3 million in state cuts.
"That's a big chunk of change that we're losing," Clyde told about 10 onlookers. "I would argue that isn't the way to go forward. We should be funding K-12 education."
Clyde, who represents the 75th Ohio House District, which includes Streetsboro, Kent, Ravenna and all of southern Portage County, said state cuts have "doled out a lot of pain" to school districts.
"We've seen huge cuts in K-12 education," she said. "Schools will be forced to go to the ballot to make up for the cuts they've seen from the state. Middle class families and seniors are being asked to pay more. The state has continued to roll back its investment in K-12 education."
Clyde, who has town hall meetings every other month in Portage County, said, "When I talk to local communities about school levies, a lot of people don't realize how much the state has cut from K-12 education. There have been really big cuts from the state. Something has to give, and it's usually at the local level [in the form of school levies].
"Education is one of the most important areas [of state funding]," she said. "It's important to invest in our future. We need an educated work force. It's important to prepare our young people for jobs of the future. We need to make sure we're providing the best educational opportunities we can. We also don't want to fall behind other states and countries. [Funding public education] is one of the most important things we do in state government, but we continue to fall short in adequately investing in our future."
Clyde touched on other topics:
• Communities like Streetsboro also feel the effect of state budget cuts, she said. For example, in 2012, she said Streetsboro received about $635,000 in estate tax, a state fund that has been eliminated. So that is, in essence, a state budget cut, she said. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars are cut from local communities like Streetsboro," she said. "[Money like that is often] used for a city's police and fire departments, and infrastructure. Those are critical services."
• Clyde has been a big proponent of legislation that makes it more convenient for people to vote. She said there has been "an unprecedented number of election bills [in recent months]. Fifteen bills have been introduced. Many of them make it harder to vote. They include efforts to decrease the chances for early voting. That will make it harder for Ohioans to vote. That shouldn't be what we're doing. We should be making it easier to vote."
Facebook: The Gateway News