Representative Bob Cupp (R-Allen County) voted for today’s passage by the Ohio House of Representatives of Amended Substitute House Bill 64, the two-year state budget bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 63 to 35.
The bill allocates funding to schools, colleges and universities, and other state programs. It also strips away tax increases proposed by the Governor, provides significant tax relief to all Ohioans and small businesses in the state to encourage job growth, and includes initial funding to support infrastructure needs of military facilities in Ohio communities.
State-wide school organizations are applauding the new school funding formula which improves school funding and sets the stage for long term stability and predictability. Rep. Bob Cupp chaired the Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, helping to assemble the state’s education budget which accounts for nearly one-third of the state tax revenue.
“The additional $270 million in state aid included in the House budget above the Governor’s proposal will help schools get back on track after the recession and will also help reduce the need to go to local voters for property tax increases,” Cupp said. “All Allen County schools would receive increased state funding through the House-passed version of the budget although the amount will vary from district to district based on the property tax valuation of the district.”
The House version of the budget jettisons the proposed tax increases and sales tax expansions found in the executive proposal. Ohioans will see a sizable income tax cut totaling $1.2 billion over the biennium. The 6.3 percent across-the-board income tax reduction beginning this year, lowers the top rate to just under 5 percent. Economists have said that state income tax rates above 5% can be a motivation for entrepreneurs, business owners, and higher income earners to leave the state for lower tax states. Consequently, the bill also prioritizes small businesses by permanently instituting a 75-percent tax deduction for the first $250,000 in income, ensuring that businesses can grow and create jobs in Allen County and Ohio communities. A commission has also been created in the legislation to discuss further tax reform for the benefit of Ohioans and Ohio businesses.
Various business groups and tax-conscious organizations have applauded the House-passed budget for its business-friendly tax initiatives. Included among these groups are The Buckeye Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio (NFIB), the Council of Smaller Enterprises, and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
“These measures—better funding for a quality education, lower state taxes, and an emphasis on small business—will help our community grow more good jobs,” Cup said.
In higher education, the budget bill allocates over $1.85 billion per year to Ohio’s colleges and universities, limits tuition increases, and requires state colleges participating in the College Credit Plus Program to offer high school students a pathway to an associate degree while in high school, thereby reducing the cost of higher education and student debt.
With a focused approach on assuring that low-income healthcare is used to remove barriers to work and move individuals to self-sufficiency, the budget proposal includes a plan to assist individuals who need health care help get off of government aid by implementing cost transparency measures. The Department of Medicaid is directed to seek waivers from Federal rules to allow for healthcare savings accounts and work requirements. Additionally, the budget bill orders a report to the general assembly on the effectiveness of health care programs available to low income persons.
Other provisions in the bill include:
- Assisting counties manage indigent criminal defense costs by paying for 50% of those costs;
- Creating the Ohio Military Facilities Commission, which would provide state funding to military installations in Ohio to ensure that they are prepared for the upcoming BRAC. Initial funding of $2.5 million is provided in each year of the budget;
- Supporting rape crisis centers with an additional $500,000 per year;
- Forming the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program to provide grants in amounts up to $100,000 to help local governments pay for public safety-related capital costs;
- Ends funding for Ohio’s participation in future PARCC testing, which has burdened local schools and students with hours and hours of testing at the cost of class instruction time;
- Extending so-called “safe harbor” provisions from the results of Common Core testing to teachers and students through FY’17;
- Providing an additional $2.75 million per year to Ohio food banks
A state budget is never perfect. However, this budget is a good step forward toward meeting important priorities for Ohioans. The state budget bill, Am. Sub. House Bill 64, now goes to the Senate for its consideration.