Ohio lawmakers pass budget with tax cuts and new school funding formula

Ohio lawmakers finally agreed to a two-year, $ 75 billion spending plan that cuts income taxes, creates a new formula for funding schools, and allows college athletes to earn money thanks to their fame.

Ohio lawmakers sent the bipartisan budget to Governor Mike DeWine on Monday night following an 82-13 vote in the Ohio House and 32-1 in the Ohio Senate. Senator Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo was the only ‘no’ to vote in this chamber. DeWine has a deadline: he must sign the invoice before Thursday.

Here are some of the big changes made by Ohio lawmakers.

Tax reductions and refunds

The Republicans, who control the House and Senate, wanted to cut taxes by different amounts.

They finally got a general tax cut of 3%. The minimum amount Ohioans can earn before paying income taxes has also been raised to $ 25,000 per year, and lawmakers have eliminated the top tax bracket for wealthy residents.

“I think we want to be competitive,” said Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls. “Only Indiana is now lower than us in our surrounding states.”

In total, the budget’s tax cuts were $ 1.64 billion.

Commuters who paid municipal income taxes to cities where their offices were located during the pandemic also got a break in the budget. They will be able to claim reimbursements for the time they worked from home in 2021.

School funding

One of the biggest challenges with this budget was deciding on a funding formula for Ohio’s K-12 public schools.

They followed the house plan but made the change effective for only two years.

“The job doesn’t end today …” Ohio School Boards Association executive director Rick Lewis said in a statement. “Lawmakers must commit to pushing this adequate and fair funding formula to the finish line.”

The House plan changes the way schools get money from the state in several important ways. For example, the state will look at both local income and land values ​​to determine how much a district should be able to cover on its own. And their base amount (cost to educate the average child) will be based on local costs instead of a single statewide average.

Part of the Senate education plan that was included in the final budget was an increase in EdChoice scholarships, often referred to as vouchers. The annual amounts will increase to $ 5,500 per year for grades K-8 and $ 7,500 for high school.

But the governor’s “welfare dollars” came out. DeWine had asked that about $ 1 billion be specifically allocated to enveloping services such as school counselors. Lawmakers have not cut money from the education budget. Instead, they built it into their increase in the block funding formula.

Abortion providers

The budget includes wording that targets two abortion clinics in southwestern Ohio currently operating under an exception to state law called a waiver.

State law requires every abortion clinic to have a transfer agreement with a local private hospital in the event of an emergency. Instead, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in Mount Auburn and Women’s Med in Dayton operate in a variant, in which they list four doctors ready to help if needed.

The changes in the budget would force these doctors to work within a 25-mile radius of the clinic and ban them from teaching in public hospitals or medical schools. That’s a problem for Women’s Med, whose doctors teach at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine.

The budget also includes $ 6 million over two years for the Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Crisis Center.

Food aid

An asset test for Ohio residents who receive assistance purchasing groceries from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program has been removed from the final state budget.

Lawmakers also eliminated a Senate proposal to require people to notify the program of an income change greater than $ 500.

“We want them to have food on their tables so they can take care of their families,” said Rep Scott Oelslager, R-Canton.

University athletes

The budget also included language that would allow students to benefit from their own name, image and likeness through endorsements and other agreements.

Students could hire agents to take advantage of their college fame. They couldn’t endorse alcohol, tobacco, adult entertainment, or casinos.

DeWine signed an executive order on Monday to authorize NIL, but adding the language to the state budget would make it permanent. Both approaches would come into effect on Thursday – an important deadline as other states have NIL laws that will take effect on that date.

Electronic bingo

Lawmakers have added language to legalize electronic instant bingo, known as eBingo, among veterans and fraternal organizations. Organizations already approved to offer bingo may have up to 10 terminals for a single person to offer eBingo.

Opponents of eBingo fear it could lead to a proliferation of slot-type games statewide – even though the Ohio Constitution prohibits many types of gambling.

“We believe there are adequate safeguards in the law to protect against a large expansion of gambling in Ohio,” Oelslager said. “I am sure it will help these fraternal organizations which are very charitable in their particular communities.”

The Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Casino Control Commission will regulate eBingo.

Ohio lawmakers will not legalize sports betting in the budget. This is a topic that House lawmakers want more time to consider.

State funded child care

Another disagreement between the House, Senate and governor concerned how the state decides which child care providers can accept public assistance children.

The Step-Up to Quality rating system requires suppliers to have at least one of five stars to earn state dollars, but it was expected to move to a minimum of three stars in the coming years.

Senate Republicans said the star requirements were too onerous and wanted to eliminate them. Instead, lawmakers decided to keep the minimum of one star and study the overall effectiveness of the program.

“We’re still not happy with where it is, it’s better than the Senate version,” said Rep. Erica Crawley, D-Columbus.

The budget also increased the amount families could earn while receiving child care assistance to 142% of federal poverty, or about $ 30,000 for a family of three.

Sex education

Republicans added a requirement that schools notify parents if they decide to go beyond abstinence only and teach “additional instruction on venereal disease or sex education.”

The rule requires schools to give parents the names of all providers, teachers and programs that will be used.

Medicaid

Senate Republicans have agreed to drop their plans to initiate the bidding process on the Medicaid managed care system.

The six companies chosen in this process will keep their winning contracts, but the budget bill included changes for the next round of tenders.

The bill also extends the period that a new mother is covered by Medicaid to one year after giving birth.

Internet access

A grant program to help cover the costs of laying Internet cables across Ohio is back on budget with a $ 250 million vote. This is the exact amount DeWine wanted, and it is $ 50 million more than what the House originally recommended.

The final budget deal also removed a proposal to stop local governments from offering broadband services.

Anna Staver and Jessie Balmert are reporters for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.


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