The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 49, the state operating budget. The bill addresses some of Ohio’s most pressing issues, including more than $170 million in funding towards combating Ohio’s opioid epidemic and providing additional resources to schools.
In response to lower than expected revenue estimates, the House restrained spending and facilitated sound fiscal policies by staying under the rate of inflation for the first time in several years and spending about $2.5 billion less than the executive proposal over the biennium.
“The budget plan approved today is not only balanced, but it appropriates funding to the areas that matter most to Ohioans, such as the opioid epidemic and funding for our schools,” Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) said. “I am very proud of the work achieved by Chairman Ryan Smith, Vice Chair Scott Ryan and all of our members for working together to face some of these challenges head-on and being responsive to the needs of the citizens we serve. I look forward to working with the Senate and Governor on ensuring we pass a balanced, responsible budget for our state.”
“This budget demonstrates that even under tight fiscal times the Ohio House is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and funding our schools,” said Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). “More than $170 million will be invested holistically to provide treatment and support to addicts, their children and the communities in which they reside. School funding has been increased to maximize opportunities for our students and to develop Ohio’s workforce.”
To underscore the importance of combating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic, the House appropriated funds totaling $170.6 million in new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda. Resources will be directed as follows:
- $80 million toward treatment (transitional housing, nursing beds pilot program, ADAMHS boards, expanding treatment/detox programs and drug courts)
- $50 million toward supporting children (Child Protective Services and kinship care)
- $19.4 million toward mental health (stabilization centers, residential state supplement, BCI processing lab reports, telemedicine coverage and mental health court pilot program)
- $12.2 million toward prevention (community coalition funding, investing in innovation & technology, accessible educational resources and Start Talking!)
- $9 million toward workforce (Short-term certificates and SNAP workforce & training funding)
Enhancing opportunities for all Ohioans is a central component of the state operating budget through additional school funding, ensuring that students have the resources to learn and grow. House Bill 49 increases per-pupil funding compared to the executive budget proposal, as well as by more than $90 million over the biennium.
On the topic of higher education, the bill promotes tuition guarantee programs in order to provide more cost consistency to students while also requiring colleges to study textbook expenses in order to ultimately reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree.
Through a series of provisions, the budget strengthens accountability in the state’s Medicaid program by placing guardrails on future Medicaid Group VIII spending through the Controlling Board. The bill also returns Medicaid oversight to the General Assembly by directing the Department of Medicaid to seek a federal waiver to require a Group VIII Medicaid recipient to be one of the following: over 55, medically fragile, employed, in an education or workforce training program, or in a recovery program.
Additional provisions in the budget include:
Simplifying the tax code
- Reduces from nine to seven the number of tax brackets in Ohio
- Removes tax changes from the executive budget proposal, including on sales, severance, tobacco and vapor, and commercial activity taxes
Modernizing the CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) formula
- Proposes using an equity rate that judges farm economy based on information disseminated from the US Department of Agriculture. This new formula will, in turn, change the capitalization rate, lower property values and give farmers more dispensation upon a true value of agricultural use, while having minimal impact on Ohio’s schools and local governments.
Addressing Ohio’s rising prison population
- Expands options for local communities to divert some low-level offenders from the crowded state prison system through a Targeted Community Alternative to Prison (TCAP) program
Ensuring children receive the care and attention they deserve
- Restores the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH) and funds the program at $3 million per year
Directing additional resources to the local level
- Increases funding for Indigent Defense by $7.1 million in FY’18 and $7.9 million in FY’19
The House’s budget proposal will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.