Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ohio House Sends State Operating Budget to Governor

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today voted to pass Amended Substitute House Bill 59, the state operating budget designed to improve Ohio’s business climate, invest in schools, help Ohioans access the care and services they need, give Ohioans greater ability to obtain higher education, and put more money back in the pockets of hardworking Ohioans.

Am. Sub. H.B. 59 makes comprehensive reforms to Ohio’s state government structure in an effort to create a more attractive and jobs-friendly environment for Ohioans. The budget builds upon Governor Kasich’s strategic vision that he proposed to the legislature in February.

“We have made a concerted effort to help Ohioans get back on their feet while also investing in our schools, job training and community services,” said Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “I am very proud of the work that the legislature has done, alongside our governor, to set our state back on course toward long-term growth and prosperity. Just two years ago we filled an $8 billion budget deficit without raising taxes—and today, we are providing all Ohioans with a significant tax reduction and investing in the things that matter most.”

“Ohio's taxpayers will receive a lower tax burden and improved funding for education and health care services from the state budget,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “I believe this budget will help our state grow stronger in many ways than would otherwise be the case because of the $2.7 billion tax reduction over these next three years and the improvements in basic services delivered primarily by our community partners.”

The budget enacts reforms and efficiency measures in numerous components of state government, particularly in the following key areas:

Reducing the Ohioans’ Tax Burden Through Common-sense Reforms

Working with Governor Kasich and the Ohio Senate, the Ohio House of Representatives crafted a series of meaningful tax reforms to allow Ohioans to keep more of their hard-earned money and to make Ohio more conducive to business growth. To accomplish these goals, Am. Sub. H.B. 59:

Provides nearly $2.7 billion in tax relief to small businesses and taxpayers by instituting a 50 percent small business tax cut for Ohio businesses and a 10 percent personal income tax reduction over the next three years.

Moves Ohio away from the income tax—which punishes success—and toward consumption-based taxes by adjusting the base sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent.

Simplifies Ohio’s overall tax structure by equalizing sales taxes on Internet goods, goods purchased through a catalog, and digital goods.

Reforms the Commercial Activity Tax by establishing a tiered minimum tax structure based on gross receipts.

Helps seniors remain in their homes by authorizing the Homestead Tax Exemption for low-income seniors as well as those who currently receive the exemption.

Eliminating a flawed taxpayer subsidy that paid a portion of homeowners’ property tax, ensuring that the homeowners themselves—not seniors or low-income Ohioans—pay their own property taxes.

Strengthening Services that Ohioans Rely On

Am. Sub. H.B. 59 prioritizes community services and resources to help Ohioans with the unique circumstances they face. Members of the Ohio House believe in helping those who need assistance the most and giving families additional options for overcoming their personal challenges. Among other provisions, Am. Sub. H.B. 59:

Allocates $33 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to assist the unemployed in getting back to work.

Increases funding to local governments for addiction services by $20 million annually and for mental health by $30 million annually.

Restores funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) so they can continue to serve those Ohioans who are most in need.

Increases funding for the PASSPORT program, allowing more senior citizens to receive vital care within the comfort of their homes.

Increases funding for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank by $2 million over the biennium.

Providing Vital Resources for Primary and Secondary Education

Education has continued to be a priority for the Ohio House, and the biennial budget includes numerous provisions to provide a competitive education for Ohio’s students. Am. Sub. H.B. 59 provides per pupil funding for economically disadvantaged aid particularly to rural and lower wealth school districts and ensures that all of Ohio’s more than 600 school districts receive at least the same amount of state aid that they received in fiscal year 2013. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of school districts will receive an increase in state aid. Am. Sub. H.B. 59 also:

Increases funding for special education, disadvantaged aide, and school transportation

Provides additional funding for school districts for every child in grades K-3 to implement the Third Grade Reading Guarantee through the “K-3 Literacy” program.

Increases funding for career-technical education by more than $200,000 over the biennium

Creates the “Straight A Fund” to provide schools with grants to implement their best reform ideas

Making Higher Education More Accessible, More Affordable

The state budget takes significant strides to ensure that those who seek advanced degrees are able to afford an education and receive the tools they need to be successful. Am. Sub. H.B. 59:

Caps tuition increases at 2 percent annually for all state schools

Permits schools to participate in a “cohort plan,” which allows universities to institute a stable, four-year cost of education, capped at a one-time increase of the tuition cap plus the five-year CPI average.

Increases funding for co-op internships by $6 million in fiscal year 2015

Provides more than $2.2 million in additional funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, which provides grants to Ohio residents with the highest levels of financial need

Increases the Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) Fund by $125,000 over the biennium to help Ohioans who are preparing for their GED exam.

“Chairman Amstutz, Vice Chairman McClain and the members of the Finance and Appropriations Committee did a fine job crafting this budget, and I am very grateful for the time they put into this effort,” said Speaker Batchelder. “Rest assured that the benefits of this forward-thinking budget will be reflected for years to come within Ohio’s communities, in Ohio’s schools, and in the paychecks of Ohioans.”