COLUMBUS – Meaningful tax relief, major health care reform and increased funding for schools are among the highlights of a state budget accord approved today by a House-Senate conference committee.

Among other initiatives, the measure also boosts funding for foster care, elderly care and higher education.

“This is a responsible, structurally balanced plan that focuses on the priorities of Ohioans,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton).

The tax package included in House Bill 166 calls for a personal income tax rate reduction of 4 percent across the board. It also eliminates the personal income tax for those earning less than $21,750.

Increased support for foster care was among the priorities of the Ohio House. At any given moment, more than 15,000 children are in foster care in Ohio – a figure that has grown by more than 25 percent in recent years.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said Ohio has done a lot in recent years to help those suffering from addiction. The addiction crisis has had a far broader impact than just on those suffering from addiction. The consequences of addiction have devastated families in every community in this state. Now, Ohio is not only focusing on addicts, but also on the children and elderly who can no longer count on support from an addict in their life.

The budget agreement also includes Medicaid pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reform. Under the legislation, Ohio would have one Medicaid PBM, a contract which would be competitively bid. The single PBM would be prohibited from having any potential conflicts of interest or relationships within the Ohio system. House Bill 166 also contains additional funding for high Medicaid volume pharmacies and a pilot program to ensure rural, high Medicaid volume pharmacies are receiving their full reimbursements.

“There was widespread agreement in the House about the importance of PBM reform and I believe the final agreement we have will improve transparency and better protect tax dollars and those the system serves,” Householder said.

Other items in the final budget agreement include:

  • Record funding for schools. The legislation increases funding by $381.8 million for the 2019-20 school year, a 4.1 percent increase. There is a 2 percent increase slated for the 2020-21 school year. The bill also provides $20 million for districts to purchase school buses.

  • Graduation requirements. The measure includes a Senate-added provision revamping Ohio’s high school graduation requirements. Beginning with the Class of 2023, students will have to meet current requirements plus attain a “competency score” on algebra I and English arts II end-of-course exams (or use an alternative demonstration of competency) and attain at least two state diploma seals. The plan includes related changes as well. Overall, it is designed to reduce reliance on testing for graduation and help students show their true promise.

  • Academic distress commissions. The bill places a moratorium on the creation of any new commissions until Oct. 1, 2020.

  • Business Income Deduction. The plan largely maintains Ohio’s current Business Income Deduction, but makes lawyers and lobbyists ineligible for the tax reduction benefit.

  • Motion picture tax credit. The bill retains the tax credit, but with changes. It focuses the credit on Ohio businesses and expands the types of expenses for which the credit may be claimed, such as post-production and promotional costs.

  • Local governments. The plan increases funding for libraries and local governments, providing an additional $10 million for each over the biennium.

  • Tobacco. The bill increases the legal age for tobacco from 18 to 21.

  • 2020 Primary Election Date. Changes the date of the 2020 primary election from March 10 to March 17. Any candidate petitions being circulated with March 10 as the date of the primary will be valid for the March 17 primary.

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