Sears Voices Opposition to Additional Spending Proposal

COLUMBUS-Representative Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) yesterday voiced
opposition during a session of the Ohio House of Representatives
regarding an unfunded education program. The bill passed yesterday from
the Ohio House.

House Bill 68 would create the Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Grant
Program, intended to provide grants to schools to establish nutritional
and agricultural education programs for kindergarteners.

"With agriculture as Ohio's staple industry, I agree that this program
does seem to provide a great learning opportunity for our young
students," Sears said. "However, there is no money allocated in the
budget to fund this particular program. In fact, the legislation
specifically states that no source of funding is designated. So my
question is, why are House Democrats proposing a plan that they have no
intentions of funding in this budget or the next?"

Grant money will fund nutritional education by providing nutritional and
agricultural training for staff, field trips to farms, and the purchase
of locally grown agricultural goods. Schools may receive awards up to
$15,000 per school year, with the grants covering 75 percent of the
estimated program costs.

"Throughout the past few months we've continuously heard that we need to
'live within our means,' but unfunded programs such as this are not
fiscally responsible," Sears said. "We are asking schools, farmers and
the administration to establish and draft rules for a program that we do
not intend to use. Governor Strickland estimates a $900 million
shortfall in the current budget. Estimated costs for this program exceed
$25 million. If we are going to live within our means, then we shouldn't
be legislating empty promises to Ohioans."

House Bill 68 will now undergo consideration in the Ohio Senate.

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