06 Aug Bill Might Mean 5,000 Ohio Education Jobs (OH)August 6, 2010
By: Jessica AlaimoSource: Lancaster Eagle Gazette
A $26 billion federal spending bill might mean 5,000 education jobs could be saved or created in Ohio, according to government figures.
The U.S. Senate approved legislation Thursday that provides $10 billion for education and $16 billion to increase the federal contribution for Medicaid, providing a cushion for state governments. The House is expected to take up the measure in a special session next week.
"Yesterday was a hallelujah day," said Patricia Frost-Brooks, president of the Ohio Education Association. "I was holding my breath." Senate Democrats broke a Republican filibuster Wednesday that made Thursday’s final vote possible.
According to National Education Association estimates, Ohio schools could get an $365 million, enough for 5,007 teaching jobs.
The association estimates that school districts in the 7th Congressional District, which includes Fairfield County, could get $18.2 million, enough for 255 education jobs.
However, the money wouldn’t just go to teaching jobs, Frost-Brooks said, rattling off a list of services that have been cut — music, art and foreign language programs, advanced classes, bus routes. Many non-teaching positions, such as bus drivers and school counselors, could be restored as well.
Frost-Brooks estimated 4,000 education positions have been lost to budget cuts in recent years.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said the education funds would be distributed either based on the state’s school funding formula or on the proportion of Title 1, Part A shares.
The bill also could mean the federal government will pitch in an estimated $492 million toward Medicaid, according to the federal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, freeing up state funds for other uses.
While others have touted this as money for other public jobs, such as police officers and firefighters, it is too soon to tell how the money would be used in Ohio, said Amanda Wurst, spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Strickland. Wurst said the state had not counted on this money in the latest budget cycle.
Ohio senators were split on the issue.
Republican Sen. George Voinovich opposed the legislation.
"At a time when the federal debt is expected to reach $14 trillion by the end of the year, local officials can no longer rely on an injection of money from Washington when times get tough," he said in a statement.
Brown, a Democrat, was a co-sponsor of the legislation and voted for the package.
"We must work to ensure that our children — who are just a few short weeks away from heading back to school — receive a high-quality education even in the face of this economic downturn," he said in a statement.