COLUMBUS – Broadband expansion, education reform, tax relief and investments to help Ohio keep and create jobs are among the highlights of the state budget plan approved by state lawmakers today, announced State Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Twp.)
The state budget, House Bill 110, makes a historic commitment to expanding broadband in Ohio by committing $250 million to support grants under the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program and the Ohio Broadband Expansion Program Authority. The plan, authored by Carfagna as House Bill 2 and signed into law last month by Governor DeWine, targets the problem of last mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to otherwise extend their service.
Carfagna noted that nearly one million Ohioans lack access to reliable high-speed internet and 300,000 households have no options whatsoever.
“Access to high-speed internet remains a critical need for job creators, educators, students, parents, and workers across Ohio,” said Carfagna. “Broadband expansion has been my top priority in the state legislature, and I am thrilled to see that Ohio is committed to building up our information infrastructure to ensure all Ohioans have the tools needed for economic and educational success.”
Among the highlights in a robust education reform package is the Fair School Funding Plan, which is the result of more than three years of work by educators and policymakers. This historic collaboration has produced a comprehensive funding formula that is rational, predictable and sustainable.
The bill includes a 3 percent across the board personal income tax cut. The tax reform plan reduces the number of tax brackets from five to four, and eliminates the income tax for anyone making less than $25,000 per year. Overall, these and other tax changes in the budget reduce taxes $2 billion over the biennium. This is the result of good fiscal management, protecting tax dollars and prioritizing state spending.
To help Ohio retain and attract jobs, the legislation includes several investments and reforms. This includes the creation of the “mega projects” program, which will increase Ohio’s competiveness in trying to attract large economic development projects. Under the bill, a “mega project” is one with a payroll of more than 300 percent of federal poverty that will have either more than $1 billion on capital investment or more than $75 million in annual payroll. These “mega projects” would be eligible for the existing Job Creation Tax Credit program.
The budget bill also makes significant investments in long term care including rate increases for home and community based care in addition to $490 million in nursing home quality incentive dollars and $250 million dollars for base rate increases. These dollars will help ensure that elderly Ohioans are able to receive quality care throughout the state.
Other highlights include:
- Increased state support for Ohio’s colleges and universities, and makes targeted investments in several programs, including STEMM education, workforce training and a new commercial truck driver student aid program.
- $15 million for law enforcement training, $10 million for police body cameras and grant funding for rape kits, crime reduction and school safety.
- $170 million over the biennium for the H2Ohio initiative.
- Establishes a committee to study the Step Up to Quality program to improve efficiencies and long-term funding strategies.
- Creates a task force to study public assistance benefit fraud.
The new two-year state budget now heads to Governor DeWine for his signature.