Yesterday the Ohio House passed the budget bill 17-19 with all but two democrats in support. The debate was a considerably short one compared to business as usual because of continued tensions between Speaker Jason Stephens and leadership rival Rep. Derrick Merrin. As a refresher, the start of the year marked one of infighting among republicans, most of whom backed farther right member Merrin for the speakership over Rep. Stephens. Rep. Stephens prevailed in the vote for House speaker only because he secured the support of all Democrats. That continued tension played out yesterday when Speaker Stephens refused to call on republican members in the Merrin camp who wanted to offer amendments to add to the budget things such as the transgender participation in sports ban (Save Women's Sports Act) and expanding school choice. Those bills remain out of the budget. Speaker Merrin allowed a motion to end debate that curtailed conversations and forced the vote.
We continue to struggle to gain support in the legislature for increasing funding to the School Psychology Intern line item. Despite submission of such an amendment by Republican Rep. Andrea White, no changes were made in the House and it remains flat funded at $3 million per year. Because this money is meant to provide a salary for interns at the minimum teacher salary schedule, the line is underfunded and has been for the last six years. The House included an amendment in this budget that would again increase the teacher minimum salary, which means our line will be even more underfunded if it continues to be ignored. I have a meeting with Sen. Andrew Brenner next week and will discuss this with him. I had previously also discussed this with Sen. Teresa Gavarrone.
I encourage you to flex your advocacy skills and reach out to your representative in the Senate. Be sure to contact the one who represents where you live as well as where you work, in case it's more than one senator. Give their office a call and ask for a conversation so you can explain what it is you do and why we need appropriate financial support for interns to ensure we can graduate more practitioners. Find your senator(s) here: https://ohiosenate.gov/members/district-map