State Rep. Sprague Applauds Passage Of Conference Report On State Operating Budget
Am. Sub. H.B. 64 provides tax relief, ensures funding for local schools
 
 
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) voted in support of Amended Substitute House Bill 64, the state operating budget. The legislation lowers the income tax, ensures funding for Ohio schools, freezes tuition costs on colleges and helps small businesses.


In an effort to drive business to Ohio and continue the significant economical success the state has experienced over the last few years, the final budget proposal cuts taxes by a total of more than $1.8 billion over the next two years and includes an across-the-board 6.3 percent income tax decrease. The proposal also lowers the top rate to just under 5 percent—the lowest it has been since 1982. Furthering that trend, and prioritizing small businesses, the bill institutes a 75 percent tax deduction on the first $250,000 of income in 2016 and a 100-percent deduction in 2017.


Through the passage of this legislation, no Ohio school will receive a reduction in state funding from 2015 for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The budget appropriates an additional $900 million in state aid to Ohio’s schools. Additionally, the bill allocates funding to make up for dollars lost because of the TPP and KWH reimbursement phase outs.


In addition to addressing taxes and primary/secondary education, Am. Sub. House Bill 64 makes higher education more affordable for students by freezing tuition rates for public colleges and universities over the next two years. It also prohibits state institutions of higher education from charging an overload fee for taking more than a certain number of credit hours.


Am. Sub. H.B. 64 works to help individuals move up and off government assistance in order to have a better quality of life by implementing cost transparency measures in Medicaid and requiring the Department of Medicaid to seek waivers to allow for health savings accounts. With a focus on curtailing the drug epidemic, the bill also earmarks $500,000 to improve access for county health departments and first responders to naloxone, an anti-opiate drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.


“This budget creates landmark Medicaid reforms to ensure that Medicaid enrollees are participants, in their health care, not just recipients,” said Representative Sprague.  “By having the courage to make these reforms now, we’ll be able to afford the system in the future.”


The legislation creates the Ohio Military Facilities Commission, which would be tasked with providing state funding to military installations in Ohio, for $5 million over the biennium, to ensure that they are prepared for the upcoming BRAC. Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to establish a veteran-friendly business procurement program. Finally, $750,000 per year will be earmarked for the Ohio Legal Aid Fund to ensure representation for disadvantaged veterans.


In order to ensure that Ohio’s local governments have the resources they need for the communities they serve, this budget makes various allocations for this purpose. For example, the bill establishes the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program with a $20 million allocation over the next two years. The bill also increases the percent of GRF tax revenues transferred to the Public Library Fund for local libraries.


Additional provisions in the budget include:



  • Extending “safe harbor” provisions to teachers and students

  • Ensuring funding for Ohio’s ABLE Act (House Bill 155), which allows the family members or guardians of Ohioans with disabilities to create their own tax-advantaged savings accounts

  • Appropriating funding for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Program

  • Placing  a tax on cigarettes at 35 cents a pack—ensuring that Ohio’s  tobacco tax amount is on par with neighboring states

  • Providing $11 million over the biennium to expand the creation of the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) drug court program.

  • Earmarking $13.4 million per year for a Medicaid managed care organization to cover community health worker services for enrollees who are pregnant, or capable of becoming pregnant, who live in a community identified by the Ohio Department of Health as having a high rate of infant mortality


Am. Sub. H.B. 64 will now head to the Governor for his signature. 

 
 
 
  
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