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

Ohio lawmakers finally agreed on a two-year spending plan of $ 75 billion that will cut income taxes, develop a new funding formula for schools, and allow college athletes to make money from their fame.

Ohio lawmakers sent the bipartisan budget to Governor Mike DeWine Monday night after the Ohio Parliament voted 82-13 and the Ohio Senate 32-1. Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, was the only “no” vote in this Chamber. DeWine has a deadline: he has to sign the invoice before Thursday.

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

Tax cuts and refunds

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

You ended up with a flat rate of 3% income tax cut. The minimum amount Ohioans can earn before paying income tax has also been raised to $ 25,000 a year, and lawmakers removed the top tier income tax bracket for wealthy residents.

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

Overall, the budget’s tax cuts totaled $ 1.64 billion.

Commuters who paid municipal income taxes to the cities where their offices were located during the pandemic were also given a break from home. You can request a refund for the time you worked from home in 2021.

School funding

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

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

“The work doesn’t end today …” said Rick Lewis, chief executive officer of the Ohio School Boards Association, in a statement. “Legislators must undertake to bring this appropriate and fair financing formula over the finish line.”

The House plan changes the way schools receive money from the state in a number of ways. For example, the state will look at both local incomes and property values ​​to determine how much a district can cover on its own. And its base amount (the cost of an average child’s education) is based on local costs rather than a single national average.

Part of the Senate’s education plan that made it into the final budget was an increase in EdChoice scholarships, often referred to as vouchers. Annual amounts are $ 5,500 per year for grades K-8 and $ 7,500 for high school.

But the governor’s “wellness dollars” have been used up. DeWine had requested that approximately $ 1 billion be allocated specifically for all-round services such as school counseling. The legislature has not cut the money from the education budget. Instead, they included it in their overall funding formula increase.

Abortion providers

The budget includes a language targeting two abortion clinics in southwest Ohio that currently operate under an exception to state law called variance.

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

Changes in budget would require these doctors to work within 25 miles of the clinic and exclude 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 an abortion crisis pregnancy center.

Food aid

A fortune test for Ohioans receiving food purchase assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has been removed from the final version of the state budget.

Lawmakers also eliminated a Senate proposal requiring people to notify the program of an income change of more 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.

College athletes

The budget also included a language that would allow college students to capitalize on their own name, image and likeness through endorsements and other offers.

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

DeWine signed an executive order on Monday to allow NIL, but adding the language to the state budget would make it permanent. Both approaches would go into effect by Thursday – an important deadline since other states have NIL laws that go into effect on that date.

Electronic bingo

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

Opponents of eBingo fear it will spread slot machine-style gambling across the state – even though the Ohio Constitution bans many types of gambling.

“We believe that the legislation contains adequate safeguards to protect against a large expansion of gambling in Ohio,” said Oelslager. “I am sure it will help the fraternal organizations that are very charitable in their respective communities.”

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

Ohio lawmakers will not legalize sports betting on the budget. This is an issue that House lawmakers want more time on.

State funded child care

Another disagreement among the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Governor was how the state decides which childcare facilities can accept children with public support.

The Step-Up to Quality rating system requires vendors to have at least one of five stars in order to earn government dollars, but it should climb to a minimum of three stars in the coming years.

The Republicans in the Senate said the Star requirements were too burdensome and wanted to eliminate them. Instead, the legislature decided to keep the minimum of one star and examine the overall effectiveness of the program.

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

The budget also increased the amount families could earn while receiving childcare allowance to 142% of state poverty, or about $ 30,000 for a family of three.

Educational classes

Republicans added that schools must notify parents if they choose to go beyond abstinence and teach “additional classes in STD or sex education.”

The rule requires schools to provide parents with the names of all providers, teachers, and curricula that will be used.

Medicaid

Senate Republicans agreed to abandon their plans to begin bidding for Medicaid’s managed care system.

The six companies selected from this process kept the contracts they won, but the budget calculation contained 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 cover the cost of running Internet cables across Ohio is back on budget for $ 250 million. That’s exactly what DeWine wanted, and it’s $ 50 million more than the House initially recommended.

In the final budget agreement, a proposal to limit the provision of broadband services by local governments was also removed.

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

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