COLUMBUS, Ohio - Hundreds rallied at the Statehouse here Tuesday to protest Republican Gov. John Kasich's plans to gut workers' rights and public services. The rally, by One Ohio Now, a coalition of labor, environmental and community organizations, was followed by visits to state legislators.
Rachel Murphy, a student at Fort Hayes High School in Columbus, spoke passionately about how budget cuts proposed by Kasich will rob students of the education they deserve. Cuts to arts programs will make Ohio unable to educate its youth to be creative, problem-solving global citizens and the budget, she said, sends the message to young people that they are expensive and not worth the investment.
Debbie Hajzak of the Cleveland Public Library recalled that major reductions in schools and libraries began under the administration of Gov. Bob Taft, who instituted a series of tax cuts for the wealthy. The fiscal crisis is only the latest excuse to take even more from working people and give more to the rich who caused the fiscal crisis in the first place, she charged.
Libraries are crucially important now that thousands are desperately looking for jobs, Hajzak said. Many need Internet access or use computers to make job applications. Libraries provide these services to everyone in the community and often make up for the fact that school libraries now are rare and understaffed.
"People are left with nothing," she said. "And it's not right."
Justin Hans, a Cleveland teacher stood with thirty students behind him to "show them whose future they're cutting here." Kasich's plan to cut $2.3 billion from schools will seriously damage young people's chances of getting an education, he said, and sends the message that young people do not matter. He said his students traveled two hours to say "No!" to Kasich.
The students were among many young people at the rally, including some 150 members of Ohio Youth Voices, a group that advocates for a youth-oriented political agenda.
Dr. Tony Minor, director of advocacy at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry in Cleveland, led the crowd in song and chants as a closing to the rally. Armed with action packets, protesters proceeded to lobby their representatives in the Statehouse and vowed to keep fighting for equity, balance and accountability.
One Ohio Now's program calls for accountability through closing corporate tax loopholes, achieving balance in the contributions that individuals and corporations make to the state's revenue stream and reforming the state's income tax to make it more equitable.
Image: Antia Waters/PW