COLUMBUS – Education reform, meaningful tax relief and investments to help Ohio keep and create jobs are among the highlights of the state budget plan being considered by lawmakers today.
The package is part of House Bill 110, which a House-Senate conference committee approved today, setting the stage for a final vote in the legislature later today.
“At its heart, a budget is about people. It’s about prioritizing spending and investing in what works. That’s what Ohio’s new state budget does,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton.) “This budget is balanced and fiscally responsible. It will improve education, help Ohio keep and create jobs, and support seniors and our most vulnerable citizens and help Ohioans keep more of what they earn. It will have a positive impact on the lives of Ohioans and our state’s future. This is a budget we can all be proud of.”
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 also makes an 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, which previously passed the House in House Bill 2, targets the problem of last mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to otherwise extend their service.
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.
Ohio’s new two-year state budget must be in place by June 30.