COLUMBUS — Rep. J. Todd Smith (R-Farmersville) voted to approve the new two-year state budget which includes major health care reforms as well as tax relief for Ohio families.
The measure, House Bill 166, also includes record funding for schools, as well as historic investments in foster care, higher education and initiatives for seniors.
$250,000 each fiscal year will be appropriated to fund the operating expenses and new program development for Ohio Task Force One – an urban search and rescue unit, which the City of Clayton Fire Department is utilizing.
“I’m proud to have voted in support of a budget that simultaneously encourages economic growth, cuts taxes, invests heavily in primary and secondary education, and provides bountiful resources for Ohio’s families who are struggling,” Rep. Smith said. “The House and Senate leaders who crafted this budget and worked out the differences during conference committee did an outstanding job putting the needs of Ohioans above all else.”
“Our focus has been rebuilding families and communities, and this budget plan is a major step forward toward those goals,” said House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford). “With this plan, we are helping families keep more of what they earn, supporting the schools their kids attend and investing in programs that make a real difference in their communities.”
The tax package included in House Bill 166 calls for a personal income tax rate reduction of 4 percent across the board. It also eliminates the personal income tax for those earning less than $21,750.
Funding for Ohio’s schools would increase by $381.8 million for the 2019-20 school year, a 4.1 percent increase. There is a 2 percent increase slated for the 2020-21 school year. The bill also provides $20 million for districts to purchase school buses.
Increased support for foster care was among the priorities of the Ohio House. At any given moment, more than 15,000 children are in foster care in Ohio – a figure that has grown by more than 25 percent in recent years, driven by the addiction crisis.
The final budget agreement between the House and Senate includes major health care reforms, including a Medicaid pharmacy benefit manager reform. Under the legislation, Ohio would have one Medicaid PBM, a contract which would be competitively bid, and the selected PBM would be prohibited from having any conflicts of interest.
Also included in the budget are changes to Ohio’s graduation requirements. Beginning with the Class of 2023, students will have to meet current requirements plus attain a “competency score” on algebra I and English arts II end-of-course exams (or use an alternative demonstration of competency) and attain at least two state diploma seals. The plan includes related changes as well. Overall, it is designed to reduce reliance on testing for graduation and help students show their true promise.
The two-year state budget has also received a signature from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.