COLUMBUS – The Ohio House Finance Committee today approved a major package of tax relief, record investments in education and support for at-risk kids in its version of the two-year state budget.

The $68.85 billion spending plan contained in House Bill 166 is the result of 135 hours of testimony from nearly 600 witnesses by the committee as well as its five subcommittees.

“This is a sustainable, responsible budget plan that is structurally balanced,” said Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton). “It provides meaningful personal income tax relief for all Ohioans, especially for low income Ohioans, while investing in our schools and helping at-risk youth.”

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said this budget is about expanding opportunity, protecting vulnerable Ohioans and investing in Ohio’s future. He said he is especially pleased with the bill’s major investment in foster care.

“We’ve done a lot in recent years to help those suffering from addiction,” Householder said. “This budget takes an important additional step by helping those impacted by the addiction crisis, in particular children.”

He praised the work of Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager, and subcommittee chairs Rick Carfagna, Robert Cupp, Dave Greenspan, James Hoops and Mark Romanchuk for their leadership in crafting the budget.

“The members of the committee, and frankly the House as a whole, really took their charge seriously,” Householder said. “They rolled up their sleeves, rose to the challenge and crafted a really good budget for the people of Ohio.”

Changes made to the bill Wednesday include:

  • Expanding the House personal income tax relief plan. The budget eliminates the personal income tax for those who earn less than $22,250 and reduces personal income tax rates by 6.6 percent for everyone else. Overall, the House budget provides an annual net tax cut of $108 million.

  • Increasing the minimum teacher base salary in Ohio, for an individual with a bachelor’s degree, from $20,000 to $30,000.

  • Permitting school districts to propose a school safety and security levy that would provide funding to local chartered non-public schools in addition to the district.

  • Creating a study committee to examine whether Ohio would benefit from the creation of a maritime commission, something that has been done in other states.

  • Creating a series of K-12 education-related studies to be undertaken primarily by the Ohio Department of Education or the legislature’s Joint Education Oversight Committee. These reviews would cover a range of topics, including special education best practices and funding, gifted education (including incentives for rural schools to serve identified gifted children), preschool, educational service centers and alternate methods for funding community schools. Additionally, a legislative task force would study the transportation of community school and non-public school students, with an eye toward greater efficiency.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Providing meaningful personal income tax relief. The budget completely eliminates the personal income tax for those who earn less than $22,250 and reduces personal income tax rates by 6.6 percent for everyone else. Overall, the House budget provides an annual net tax cut of $108 million.

  • Record funding for Ohio schools, with the House adding $125 million to Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed K-12 education budget.

  • $60 million over the biennium for foster care, double what had been proposed in the governor’s budget. The funding will help support local efforts, at-risk youth and recruiting additional foster parents.

  • Medicaid PBM reform to increase transparency and accountability, and protect tax dollars.

The Ohio House is scheduled to be in session beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, with lawmakers expected to consider the budget bill. The measure would then go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

The two-year spending plan is for the biennium beginning July 1, 2019.

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