Rep. Cupp Supports Passage Of House Budget Plan
Budget bill prioritizes drug epidemic, schools

COLUMBUS—Rep. Bob Cupp joined a majority of the Ohio House of Representatives this week in voting to pass the House version of HB 49, the state’s proposed two-year operating budget. The bill addresses some of Ohio’s most pressing issues, including allocating an additional $90 million for primary and secondary education, more money for higher education,  and more than $170 million in funding to help combat Ohio’s heroin epidemic.

Adjusting to lower revenue estimates, the House budget restrains spending and promotes sound fiscal policies.  Appropriations are under the rate of inflation and total about $2.5 billion less than the Governor’s proposed biennium budget. Additionally, the Governor’s tax-shifting proposals were scrapped.

“It is important to keep the focus on important priorities when allocating the money that Ohio’s hard-working taxpayers provide for essential state services.  This is particularly essential when the budget is tight, as it is this year,” Rep. Cupp said.

To underscore the importance of combating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic, the House appropriated $170.6 million new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through its HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda. Resources will be directed as follows:
• $80 million toward treatment (Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health boards, expanding treatment/detox programs, with $6M towards drug courts, transitional housing, nursing beds pilot program,)
• $12.2 million toward prevention (community coalition funding, investing in innovation & technology, accessible educational resources and Start Talking!)
• $19.4 million toward mental health (stabilization centers, residential state supplement, BCI processing lab reports, telemedicine coverage and mental health court pilot program)
• $50 million toward supporting children (Child Protective Services and kinship care)
• $9 million toward workforce development (Scholarship  funding for short-term programs granting educational [?] certificates for  in-demand jobs and SNAP workforce & training funding)
In providing the state’s share of primary and secondary education funding over the next two fiscal years, the basic aid formula, which details how state funding is allocated to Ohio’s 610 school districts, was increased to $6,020 per student.  Additionally, the budget focused on providing additional funding for shared services that all schools can use without separately purchasing them.  These include electronic information and research databases and other resources provided through INFOhio for use by students and teachers, Educational Technology Centers to provide training that will help teachers make greater use of technology in their classroom, and Educational Service Centers that provide specialized personnel and assistance to member school districts as cost-saving services.

Ensuring that Ohio’s healthcare system is accessible and affordable continues to be a priority. Through a series of provisions, the budget strengthens accountability in the state’s Medicaid program by placing guiderails on future Medicaid Group VIII spending through the State Controlling Board. The bill also returns Medicaid oversight to the General Assembly by directing the Ohio Department of Medicaid to seek federal permission through a waiver to limit Group VIII Medicaid recipients (Medicaid federal expansion group). Otherwise qualifying individuals must also be one of the following: over age 55, medically fragile, employed, enrolled in an education or workforce training program, or in a recovery program.

Additional provisions in the budget include:
• Simplifying the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets and eliminating tax changes included in the executive budget proposal
• Modernizing the CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) Formula to protect farmers from the doubling or tripling of taxes on farmland resulting from factors in the CAUV formula that have increased at the same time the prices for farms products has declined markedly.
• Ensuring children receive the care and attention they need by restoring the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH) program and funding it at $3 million per year
• Directing additional resources to the local level by increasing funding to counties to help pay for the costs of providing legal counsel for indigent defendants.
The House’s budget bill, sponsored by House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.   The Ohio Constitution requires the budget to be enacted by July 1 of this year.

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