State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) Friday 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 $900 million more 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.
"I am pleased with the Ohio House and Senate in creating a bill that addresses a number of issues that positively affects the 79th District and all Ohioans,” Rep. Koehler said. “The budget increases funding to the Local Government Fund for capital improvements and retains current funding for schools, while reducing income taxes for Ohioans. House Bill 64 also prohibits PARCC testing for the upcoming fiscal year. I have heard my constituents very clearly in their complaints about being over tested and under educated. By removing PARCC, we take a step forward in getting our teachers back to teaching. I have always said we should send as few of our taxpayer dollars to Columbus as possible and bring as much of those taxpayer dollars back to our local communities, and I believe this budget moves us in that direction.”
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 also works to help individuals who need medical care to overcome their personal challenges and lift them 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, Ohio is on the forefront of comprehensive Medicaid reform. With a focus on curtailing the drug epidemic, the bill 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.
Items in the budget that affect the 79th House District more locally include:
- The creation of the Ohio Military FacilitiesCommission, which would be tasked with providing state funding to military installations in Ohio (including the Springfield Air National Guard Base), for $5 million over the biennium, to ensure that they are prepared for the upcoming Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC)
- $5 million in FY 2017 to Ohio State University to support collaboration between Ohio's research universities, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, NASA Glenn Research Center, and the private sector to align the state's research and workforce assets with the two federal installations
- Specifying that the Springfield Downtown Parking Facility may be used for transportation and community strategic planning, including, but not limited to, construction of a parking garage, studies of parking issues, and long-term strategic community planning
The budget bill requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to establish a veteran-friendly business procurement program. Additionally, $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
- Providing $11 million over the biennium to expand the creation of 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.