Politics

Ohio Senate Passes $69B State Budget

COLUMBUS, Ohio  – The state’s two-year, $69 billion operating budget now awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature after the state Senate yesterday passed Amended Substitute House Bill 166 on a 29-1 vote.

“This budget was passed with strong bipartisan support, as both Republicans and Democrats recognized the need for new investment in key childhood and neighborhood programs. We did this while never forgetting our commitment to the taxpayers, and that we believe it’s your money first, not the government’s money,” Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-22 Medina, said in a statement issued by his office. “Ohioans earn their money to take care of their families, not to take care of big government.”

Among the provisions of the budget are income tax cuts totaling nearly $700 million, including elimination of the bottom two brackets and an across-the-board 4% tax cut for the remaining five brackets, as well as keeping the existing small business tax deduction exempting the first $250,000 of revenue. 

Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Ohio, lauded inclusion of the business investor deduction in the budget, which will “allow Ohio’s small businesses to invest in their companies, hire additional workers, and support the communities that are so important to them,” he said.

“NFIB appreciates the commitment shown to Ohio’s small business community by preserving the business investor deduction in the final version of Ohio’s operating budget,” Geiger continued. “Our members were galvanized in support and came to Columbus, contacted their legislators, met with them personally to share how they are using these dollars to reinvest in their businesses, and thus Ohio. The legislature and administration heard loud and clear from the job creators in this state.”

The budget also includes “major regulatory reforms,” according to the statement. Under the legislation, any new rule that is implemented must be accompanied by a review of two old rules that may be outdated or no longer relevant.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, who served as the Ohio Senate minority conference for the budget, said he was glad to support it.

The bill included $3 million for water and sewer improvements in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties; $1.2 million to support the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and the Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center; $1.5 million to remove low-head dams in the Mahoning River; and $500,00 for a feasibility study and implementation plan for the Mahoning River Trail Initiative.

“While no budget is ever perfect, I worked hard with the leaders of both parties in my chamber to ensure that this bill is as beneficial as possible to all Ohioans, but especially to my constituents,” said O’Brien, D-32 Bazetta. 

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-58 Youngstown, who voted against the final version of the budget, blasted Republican leaders for stripping out a provision in the House version of the bill that would have repealed House Bill 70 – also referred to as “The Youngstown Plan” – which strips local control from low-performing school districts and places the district under the control of a CEO appointed by the governor. 

That legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 83-12 in May, was included in the House version of the two-year spending plan. It was stripped out by the Republicans who controlled the conference committee that produced the final version of the budget.

“H.B. 166 is a slap in the face to the thousands of students in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland who are trapped in schools controlled by autocratic, unaccountable CEOs and academic distress commissions that have been established under the provisions of H.B. 70,” Lepore-Hagan said. 

“The Republicans know the Youngstown Plan is a farce and failure,” she continued. “That’s why the budget contains a moratorium on the establishment of new ADCs. But that moratorium does nothing to help the students, parents, teachers, and communities who have been struggling to cope with the impact of former Gov. John Kasich’s scheme to undermine public education.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.