Rep. Retherford Applauds Passage Of House Budget Plan
Fiscally sound budget bill prioritizes drug epidemic, schools

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 49, the state operating budget. The bill addresses some of Ohio’s most pressing issues, including more than $170 million in funding towards combating Ohio’s opioid epidemic and providing additional resources to schools. Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) voted in support of the legislation.

In response to lower than expected revenue estimates, the House restrained spending and facilitated sound fiscal policies by staying under the rate of inflation for the first time in several years and spending about $2.5 billion less than the executive proposal over the biennium.

To underscore the importance of combating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic, the House appropriated funds totaling $170.6 million in new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda. Resources will be directed as follows:
• $80 million toward treatment (transitional housing, nursing beds pilot program, ADAMHS boards, expanding treatment/detox programs, drug courts)
• $50 million toward supporting children (Child Protective Services and kinship care)
• $19.4 million toward mental health (stabilization centers, residential state supplement, BCI processing lab reports, telemedicine coverage and mental health court pilot program)
• $12.2 million toward prevention (community coalition funding, investing in innovation & technology, accessible educational resources and Start Talking!)
• $9 million toward workforce (Short-term certificates and SNAP workforce & training funding)
Enhancing opportunities for all Ohioans is a central component of the state operating budget through additional school funding, ensuring that students have the resources to learn and grow. House Bill 49 increases funding compared to the executive budget proposal by more than $90 million over the biennium.

Through a series of provisions, the budget strengthens accountability in the state’s Medicaid program by placing guardrails on future Medicaid Group VIII spending through the Controlling Board. The bill also returns Medicaid oversight to the General Assembly by directing the Department of Medicaid to seek a federal waiver to require a Group VIII Medicaid recipient to be one of the following: over 55, medically fragile, employed, in an education or workforce training program, or in a recovery program.

The budget bill also included two amendments submitted by Rep. Retherford, consisting of the provisions in House Bills 78 and 85, both originally sponsored by Retherford. The measures incorporated from House Bill 78, also known as the Elder Justice Act, make a variety of changes to help better protect Ohio’s elderly population against neglect or exploitation. Additionally, the provisions of House Bill 85 formally adopt the Health Care Compact, which is designed to transfer the responsibility of regulating healthcare from the federal government to the member states in the Compact.

“No budget is perfect. However, I applaud my colleagues for their work on this year’s budget,” said Rep. Retherford. “I especially appreciate their support in adding the Health Care Compact and Elder Justice Act in the bill.  For years, the Affordable Care Act has hampered Ohio’s businesses and middle class.  By entering the Health Care Compact, we are finally asserting our constitutional right to self-government and standing up for Ohio’s citizens. The Elder Justice Act is a desperately needed reform to elder abuse laws. By bringing in more reporters and adding updates to financial crimes, we can protect Ohio’s senior citizens and their life savings.  I urge my colleagues in the Senate to leave these provisions in the budget. We have much more work to do, but I am confident that the General Assembly will work tirelessly to ensure that Ohio continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

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 give farmers more dispensation upon a true value of agricultural use, while having minimal impact on Ohio’s schools and local governments
• Addressing Ohio’s rising prison population by expanding options for local communities to divert some low-level offenders from the crowded state prison system
• Ensuring children receive the care and attention they deserve 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 for Indigent Defense
• Streamlining state government while ensuring licensure reform efforts by consolidating several state boards
The House’s budget bill, sponsored by House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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