Rep. Schaffer Votes To Pass State Budget, Send To Governor
Proposals include Buckeye Lake relief, Medicaid expansion freeze without increasing taxes
June 28, 2017
 
[ Tim Schaffer Home | Tim Schaffer Press ]
 
 

State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) voted today to pass the state biennial budget, House Bill 49. The bill passed the House with a vote of 59-38, and will go to Gov. Kasich’s desk for his signature.


“The number of important proposals in this budget will keep Ohio on the right track for the next two years,” Rep. Schaffer said. “I am pleased to support this budget because it aligns with Fairfield County’s values of fiscal responsibility, government accountability and prudent investments. Under strong Republican leadership, we have cut costs and the size of government to make it more responsive and accountable to our citizens. Particularly with our Medicaid plan, by freezing new enrollment and adding work requirements, we are shrinking this massive spending program to more sustainable levels.”


Representative Schaffer secured a number of amendments in the final version of the budget, including:


 



  • An amendment that assists the Buckeye Lake and Millersport regions’ continued economic recovery a few crucial ways:

    • Cuts red tape in the Lakes in Economic Distress program by reducing eligibility requirements from a 40% loss to a 10% loss, finally allowing businesses to access loans and grants to help stabilize their operations.

    • Makes all applications to the Lakes in Economic Distress program private and not subject to public record.

    • Reappropriates unspent funds in the new biennium for both loans and grants in the Lakes in Economic Distress program.

    • Provides access to state money to offset local costs due to stormwater drainage improvements.

    • Rep. Schaffer was also proud to lead an initiative that provides funding to non-affiliated food banks and pantries, the most inclusive approach Ohio has ever taken to fight hunger in the state. Previously, only organizations who were members of the Ohio Association of Food Banks were eligible to receive funding. This oversight left many community organizations in severely underserved areas without access to state dollars. By correcting it, Ohio will see a greater capacity to help families in need, including hungry children.

    • The budget includes updates to pre-need funeral contracts, providing stronger consumer protections and updates to existing law. Unfortunate situations have arisen where Ohioans who have pre-paid for their funeral services essentially had their money embezzled by deceitful funeral directors. The new anti-fraud protections modernize language from a bill Rep. Schaffer passed a decade ago, making it much more difficult to use the contract money inappropriately.

    • The bill will increase transparency and accountability for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas. Currently, there is no formal accounting mechanism to track the balance in the idle and orphan oil well plugging program. The amendment requires the state to use a specific accounting code to track how Ohio spends money generated by the severance tax for this specific purpose.

    • To fix a flaw in Ohio’s tax code, the budget now exempts prescription vision aids, like eyeglasses, from the state sales tax. It was previously the only medically necessary item to be taxed.




Major policy initiatives in the budget reduce spending by $2.5 billion in key areas, including Medicaid, to ensure fiscal stability over the biennium without having to raise taxes. In fact, the budget reduces the number of income tax brackets from nine to seven, eliminates income taxes for those who earn less than $10,000 per year and streamlines tax compliance for businesses. The state budget funds nearly all of state government over a two-year period. And the Ohio Constitution requires the budget to be balanced, meaning the state cannot spend more money than it takes in.


House Bill 49 makes Ohio the first state to seek a federal waiver to freeze new enrollment to the Medicaid Group VIII expansion population with certain exemptions (the drug addicted and mentally ill). Additionally, through a series of provisions, the budget strengthens accountability in the state’s Medicaid program by placing guardrails on future Medicaid expansion spending through the stronger legislative oversight.


The budget also tackles major issues the state faces in education and the opiate addiction epidemic. On education, the budget eliminates unnecessary testing and encourages critical thinking skills. For funding, no school district in Fairfield County will lose any foundation funding over the biennium.


Additional investments will go toward combatting drug addiction to the tune of $180 million. This funding will take a multi-faceted approach by coordinating care through prevention, treatment, mental health resources and workforce training initiatives.


In addition to the Sales Tax Holiday scheduled for this year in separate legislation, the budget also includes a Sales Tax Holiday for 2018, providing families with relief in their back to school shopping.


House Bill 49 now goes to the Governor for his signature before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. 

 
 
 
  
Featured Posts