State Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) and the Ohio House approved House Bill 110, otherwise known as the two-year state operating budget for Fiscal Years 2022-2023. The legislation highlights include a new school funding reform plan, tax relief, jobs and economic support, and several other initiatives.
“As Speaker Pro Tempore within the Ohio House, I’m very proud of all my colleagues on the coordinated efforts to get this comprehensive and balanced budget approved in the House today,” said Ginter. “School funding, tax relief for all Ohioans, targeted investments for businesses and employment opportunities, and much more are compiled into this intricate budget package – it’s a win for Ohio.”
Ginter submitted and supported several amendments that are in the bill, including:
· Health Districts - Includes a protection for local health districts with 50,000 constituents or less. Instead, the amendment requires each city with a population less than 50,000 to complete a study evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of merging with the general health district that includes the city for the administration of health affairs in the merged general health district.
· Home Health Care - Specifies an existing licensed residential care (assisted living) facility may request an expedited licensing inspection from the Director of Health. When the facility is seeking approval to increase or decrease its licensed capacity or make any other change for which the Director requires a licensing inspection to be conducted, an expedited license will increase access to care. In addition, this portion requires home health agencies and non-agency providers of direct care to be licensed by the Department of Health to provide skilled home health services and nonmedical home health services.
· Gracehaven - Extends funding for their pilot program to provide community-based services to women under the age of 18 who have been victims of human trafficking.
· National Guard - Establishes eligibility for the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program. Individuals actively enrolled as a full-time or part-time students would be able to apply funds to a broader range of programs including work in a credential-certifying program, licensing program, trade certification program, or apprenticeship program.
· Vision Care – Appropriates funds for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, the service provider, in the area of vision care. The state funded portion of the project will deliver more than 2,500 eye exams and 2,000 new prescription glasses annually at a cost of only $150 per exam and glasses for children who do not pass an initial vision screening. Students will receive an exam and glasses as prescribed, free of charge, and will then be connected to a local vision care provider, establishing a bridge to a lifetime of vision care for the students.
· Ohio Oil & Natural Gas - Removes red tape to make leasing an easier process for producers and state government. This eliminates the requirement for the state to put minerals into classifications based on information discovered in a title report and removes requirements for state agencies to spend revenue on specific infrastructure.
· Pill Vials - Provides funding for a pilot project through OhioMHAS, this amendment creates a two-year pilot program with participating pharmacies to dispense controlled substances in lockable or tamper-evident containers.
The school funding reform plan is the result of more than three years of work by educators and policymakers. The Fair School Funding Plan is predictable, sustainable and transparent. The plan will be phased in over the next six years, beginning with the 2021-22 school year, and is designed to ensure no district loses funding during the transition to a new formula.
The legislation also includes a two percent personal income tax rate cut, which will reduce taxes approximately $380 million over the biennium. Coupled with recently passed legislation (Senate Bill 18) conforming Ohio’s tax code with federal law, the House is providing a nearly $500 million in personal income tax relief this biennium.
In addition to school funding reform and tax relief, the plan provides COVID-19 relief aid to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. The House budget proposal appropriates $155 million in COVID-19 relief aid to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. Grants from this funding will be available in the fiscal year beginning July 1. The package includes:
• $100 million for restaurants and bars
• $25 million for the lodging industry
• $20 million for indoor and outdoor entertainment venues
• $10 million in relief for new businesses
Additionally, the budget bill includes targeted investments to support Ohio jobs, businesses and the economy. This portion of the bill focuses on expanding procurement law to give preference to American and Ohio products. The legislation also focuses on workforce development through a committee to study workforce training and several programs to support employment opportunities.
The legislation also builds on the quality funding incentives from the 133rd General Assembly budget cycle with increased support by providing rate increases to home- and community-based service providers including Assisted Living, HomeCare and PASSPORT. Further, regarding adult day care, the bill provides funding to help adult day care programs that are PASSPORT and developmental disability providers.
House Bill 110 also includes a series of provisions in support of law enforcement, firefighters and public safety. Some of the initiatives include security grants, school safety grants, body cameras, law enforcement training investment, firefighter grants, and funding for the Ohio Cyber Reserve.
The House plan also contains several provisions that are part of a broader effort to increase legislative oversight and government accountability on state spending. These include:
• Joint Legislative Oversight and Review Committee of Federal COVID Relief Aid – This panel will provide more oversight of federal COVID relief aid spent by the state.
• State Controlling Board – The budget calls for more agency spending initiatives to come before the board for review and approval. The seven-person board is comprised of three House members, three Senate members and a designee of the governor’s budget director.
The new budget also includes House Bill 2, which creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program and the Ohio Broadband Expansion Program Authority. This initiative includes more than $200 million to support the grants.
The budget plan, under House Bill 110, now heads to the Senate for further action.