Column: State Budget Victory Years in the Making
Success in the world of legislative politics oftentimes takes years to achieve. You must have a good idea, mobilize support, find legislative champions, and overcome a plethora of policy, fiscal, and political obstacles as legislation travels through the process. It’s just the nature of the beast.
When you have a substantial legislative victory, it’s nice to reflect on all the time and hard work it took to achieve a goal. Lessons come from the journey, after all.
OHFAMA joined forces with Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (KSUCPM) to secure $6.8 million in State Share of Instruction (SSI) funding for KSUCPM students through the
recently enacted state budget. This critical funding will help reduce tuition for Ohio residents who attend KSUCPM, reducing debt load for our homegrown students by up to 30%.
This is a critical victory for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s an issue of fairness. Up until this year, KSUCPM students from Ohio were the only in-state students who did not receive a tuition break at state-affiliated medical, dental, and veterinary medical colleges.
And this was not for a lack of effort. KSUCPM has been fighting for a share of SSI funding for years – an effort that began shortly after Kent State University, a public university, acquired the private Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in 2012 – but had been stymied by lean budgets and a reluctance of other medical schools to risk giving up a portion of their funding.
It took some new approaches, the right political winds, and some perseverance to secure this crucial legislative victory.
OHFAMA partnered with KSUCPM to hold a legislative outreach event October 10, 2022, at the college. The successful event highlighted the importance of podiatric medicine to the wellbeing of Ohioans, showcased
KSUCPM’s campus to legislative leaders, and educated key policymakers about podiatric education, training, and scope of practice.
The event featured Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner and Senator Matt Dolan and Representative Phil Robinson.
Kent State University President Todd Diacon, PhD, KSUCPM Dean Allen Boike, DPM, and then-OHFAMA President Sarah Abshier, DPM, gave presentations after a networking lunch and several leading KSUCPM
students led a tour of the college and answered policymakers’ questions about their education, training, and career aspirations.
The event not only educated key policymakers but brought together key college and association leaders – including longtime KSUCPM advocates Karen Kellogg, DPM and Bruce Blank, DPM – to form a strong, united
The Right Political Winds
Legislation that calls for new state funding is highly unlikely to advance in dire financial times. Thankfully, the Ohio Budget Stabilization fund, the state’s “rainy day” fund, began the year with a nearly $3.5 billion surplus. This made our funding request far more palatable.
Similarly, the Kent State University government affairs team, working with Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) prepared a budget amendment that included KSUCPM students in the Medical 1 SSI funding line, which was
divided among Ohio’s public in-state veterinary and dentistry students at Ohio State University.
This change in strategy alleviated previous concerns from the state’s allopathic and osteopathic medical schools that including KSUCPM in their SSI funding pool would adversely impact their funding levels. This calmed the headwinds KSUCPM faced in the past.
Mreover, the amendment modestly increased funding for OSU veterinary and dentistry students, which enabled us to make the argument the amendment would “hold harmless” other Medical 1 SSI students while providing $3.4 million annually to reduce tuition for Ohio’s podiatric medical school students. It proved to be a winning argument.
The state budget process begins with the governor’s budget proposal before the bill weaves its way through the House of Representatives and Senate before heading to a conference committee to iron out differences
between the House and Senate versions of the budget.
Neither the governor’s budget nor House’s version of the budget included funding for KSUCPM. However, thanks to the tireless work of the OHFAMA and Kent State University government affairs teams, the Senate’s version of the budget included the KSUCPM funding amendment. The final budget bill was ultimately signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine on July 3.
Thank you to OHFAMA lobbyists Dan Leite and Courtney Saunders who held countless meetings with legislative leaders and staff throughout the process to stress the importance of the amendment to the future of our
Also, we would like to thank Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), KSUCPM’s new state senator, for sponsoring the amendment and ensuring it made it into the final version of the budget through his work on the Senate
Finance Committee and conference committee.
Finally, I would like to thank all the OHFAMA members who contacted their legislators to encourage them to support the KSUCPM funding amendment through the APMA eAdvocacy tool. Your efforts to ensure a
strong future for our profession are appreciated!