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Ohio Senate OKs budget plan with unanimous bipartisan support

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Updated Jun 20, 2019 at 5:23 PM

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate today passed the state’s two-year operating budget (Am. Sub. H.B. 166), legislation that invests in Ohio’s essential public services while providing significant tax relief to hard-working Ohioans and preserving key tax reforms important to Ohio’s growth.

“While being fiscally responsible, this budget protects Ohio's commitments to our most vulnerable, makes education a priority and invests in Ohio’s natural resources,” said Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), whose 13th district includes Huron County. “I'm proud of the work we were able to accomplish to keep our state healthy and our future hopeful."

Business officials expressed satisfaction with the budget plan.

“The Ohio Senate kept their commitment to Ohio’s small business community by preserving the business investor deduction (BID) in their final version of Ohio’s operating budget,” said Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Ohio — the state’s leading small business association. “Our members came to Columbus and wrote their legislators to share how they are using these dollars to reinvest in their businesses, and thus Ohio. The latest figures show increasing tax revenues and low unemployment, demonstrating the economic stability of our state. We believe this validates the stories of our members and the success of the BID,” said Roger Geiger, Vice President and Executive Director for NFIB in Ohio.

“We applaud the Ohio Senate for recognizing the importance of small business to Ohio’s continued growth. Small businesses represent a significant portion of private sector employment and economic activity. NFIB members’ optimism is at near-record levels. The actions taken today will work to preserve the dedication our members have to Ohio’s success,” Geiger continued.

“The Ohio Senate not only retained the BID, but they also reduced personal income taxes as well, returning more money to hard-working Ohioans. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the legislature and the administration to ensure these positive economic policies are enacted,” Geiger concluded.

Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague also praised the Senate’s passage of the biennial budget bill, which includes language to establish the ResultsOHIO pay for success fund in the Ohio Treasurer’s office. The statement can be attributed to Treasurer Sprague:

“I applaud President Obhof and the Ohio Senate for passing a budget bill that would create the ResultsOHIO fund,” Sprague said. “I also would like to thank Senator Steve Wilson for his hard work in helping us move this proposal forward.

“With crises like addiction, infant mortality and others plaguing our state, now is the time to focus on producing results for the people of Ohio. ResultsOHIO will do just that by turning to the private sector for innovative solutions,” Sprague said. “Not only will ResultsOHIO help produce better outcomes for Ohioans, it will ensure state resources are directed to programs that actually work. I look forward to working with the Conference Committee as they finalize the state’s biennial budget.”

Education leaders also praised the budget plan.

“The Ohio Senate passed a budget bill today that puts students first,” said Kevin Bacon, president and CEO of School Choice Ohio. “This bill includes provisions that increase access to educational options for families across the state, address issues with graduation requirements, and streamline scholarship application processes. The innovative and forward-thinking education provisions included by the Senate are necessary to provide all students a high-quality education. School Choice Ohio fully supports these provisions and commends the Senate for all of their work for Ohio students.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and the governor’s office to ensure that students are put first.”

The bill now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget signed by the governor by June 30.

According to information provided by Manning’s office, major provisions of the Senate’s plan include:

Investing in Ohioans’ Health and Well-being

The Senate’s budget helps families in crisis by making targeted investments in kinship, multi-system youth, and crisis care. The budget improves access for breast and cervical cancer screenings by expanding eligibility and increases funding for maternal health and pregnancy resource centers.

It also improves care for Ohio’s low-income, elderly citizens by investing in home and community-based services. The budget increases health care transparency to protect Ohioans from “surprise medical billing” when out-of-network doctors are used, often unbeknownst to patients.

The budget provides $1M over the biennium for a newly-created fund within the Attorney General’s office for the Internet Crimes Against Children task force to protect children from internet crimes.

Nutritious food is crucial to improved healthcare outcomes, and additional funding was directed to Ohio’s foodbanks in the Senate’s budget. Vital community service providers, like Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way family stability programs, Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, and the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, also received increased funding for proven programs to help Ohioans’ achieve their best potential.

Additional financial support was provided to local governments through increases to the local government fund as well as increased support for indigent defense, for extraordinary legal costs faced in situations like the Pike County murder case, and for 30 additional local drug courts to help Ohioans seek treatment in lieu of jail time.

Supporting the veterans who protect our freedoms, the Senate increased funding for various veterans’ organizations, including innovative programs focused on helping veterans who struggle with PTSD and other mental health concerns achieve healing and stability. The budget also removes job barriers for Ohio’s military spouses who are seeking occupational licenses to continue their employment when transferred to Ohio.

Investing in Education and Career Readiness

The Senate’s budget invests in the physical and mental health of Ohio students by supporting $550 million in new funding for “wrap-around wellness” services for all K-12 schools. It also includes $100M in additional funding for school facility construction to continue Ohio’s commitment that all children attend school in safe buildings conducive to learning; reauthorizes funding for School Safety Training grants and other safety programs for schools and religious centers; and provides supplemental dollars to school districts with growing student populations.

The budget also continues to protect a parents’ right to choose the best educational option for their children and updates high school graduation requirements by reducing the number of tests and creating non-test alternatives for students to demonstrate they are ready for successful entry into career training and post-secondary educational opportunities.

The Senate increased funding for Ohio’s nationally-recognized libraries, which not only provide educational and cultural learning opportunities in our communities, but also play a critical role in career readiness and training.

The Senate’s budget focused on career and workforce success by increasing funding for higher education institutions and College Opportunity grants; providing reimbursement options for workforce-related credential programs; and expanding funding for rural healthcare workforce training.

Protecting the Health of Lake Erie and Ohio’s Natural Resources

Continuing to protect the health and viability of Ohio’s lakes and rivers, the budget fully funds the H2Ohio program over the next two years in a comprehensive effort to deal with the challenges faced by Lake Erie and Ohio’s other vital waterways. The effort is strongly supported by both agriculture and environmental groups.

The Senate’s budget also provides additional funding for maritime port economic development, specifically in opportunity zones across Ohio.

The Senate protected funding for parks, nature preserves and wildlife areas around the state.

Providing Significant Tax Relief for Hard-Working Ohioans

One of the most important ways the Senate believes the state can invest in Ohioans is by returning tax dollars to the taxpayer. The Senate plan provides tax relief for working families by removing the bottom two tax brackets and includes an across the board income tax reduction of 8% over the biennium, providing Ohioans opportunities to build their future, not build big government.

The Senate’s budget also protects tax relief for small businesses, the backbone of Ohio’s economy. The bill restores zero income taxes on the first $250,000 earned by small businesses, with revenue over that taxed within Ohio’s new marginal rates.

The Senate’s tax relief package represents an over $640 million tax cut for Ohioans and represents the Senate’s belief that lower taxes and fewer regulations make a significant difference in Ohio’s economy and the lives of the people who call Ohio home. Important regulatory reforms were included in the budget by establishing a one-in, two-out goal to help ensure rules or regulations created by state government have a specific purpose to protect Ohioans and do not create needless barriers to growth.

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