COLUMBUS – State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) last week announced the Senate’s passage of the state’s two-year budget proposal with a vote of 23-10. The bill includes substantial new funding for education and more than $1.75 billion in net tax relief for hardworking Ohioans and small business owners.
“While creating the State budget, we have to juggle many demands, and we have done a good job addressing our top priorities,” said Senator Beagle. “We have worked on making Ohio a business friendly state, included policies that will create new jobs, continued to address the concerns of those in need, added funding to our schools, and focused on our regional needs in the Miami Valley.”
The Senate budget includes a number of amendments submitted by Senator Beagle, which:
• Creates Jobs: Senate proposal retains $2.5 million for the Dayton Midtown Redevelopment Project, which is revitalizing the old downtown fairgrounds to develop an economically sustainable research corridor for high-tech jobs and medical-related businesses in the Miami Valley Hospital neighborhood. This will create 875 new permanent jobs.
• Provides Racino Funding for Dayton: Language that will provide the City of Dayton money that was originally agreed to under contract.
• Improves OhioMeansJobs: Several changes are included for the OhioMeansJobs Revolving Loan Fund which was created with the passage of Senate Bill 1 in the 130th General Assembly. These changes help to ensure that the program runs more efficiently and will be available for students in high-demand programs this fall.
• Developmental Disabilities: Included $8,500 to the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities for the “Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters Project”.
• Creates Responsible Facility Closure Process: Requires a commission to be created when a developmental disabilities center closes to report on the feasibility of the closure. This language requires that at least one member of the commission be a family member of a person living in the center.
• Connects Students with Employers: Reestablishes the Third Frontier Internship Program. This program works to connect potential employers with a pool of qualified candidates and encouraging more permanent job placements.
• Supports Mentorship Programs: Allocates a million dollars over two years to a Big Brothers Big Sisters program geared towards children with incarcerated parents.
• Identifies Workforce Needs: while will work on studying workforce development issues and trends in the Region, including workforce development system options for in-demand jobs and identifying supply and demand of in-demand job areas.
• Maintains Historic Rehabilitations Credits: Maintains Ohio’s support for historic rehabilitation projects by ensuring that projects will continue to receive tax credits upon completion.
• Streamlines Vital Services: Created a program geared towards those currently receiving assistance from Jobs and Family services that will have wrap around services for 16-24 year olds, including workforce training, and creates a commission to research and report the way federal funds are spent in Ohio on Jobs and Family Services programs. This measure spends no state dollars, while keeping federal dollars accountable.
“All of these changes come with an emphasis of serving Ohioans better, whether that be with services they need or jobs that may be created. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of a process that continues to strengthen Ohio’s workforce and economy.,” said Senator Beagle.
Among the major highlights in the bill, the Senate plan:
• Tax Cuts: Reduces Ohio’s income tax rate by 6.3 percent, returning $1.26 billion to taxpayers over the next two years, allowing Ohioans the opportunity to keep more of their hard-earned money.
• Small Business Tax Relief: Eliminates the entire state tax burden on small businesses with income up to $250,000 and creates an innovative, new 3 percent flat tax for small businesses above that income level. This allows small businesses, the backbone of Ohio’s economy, the opportunity to invest back into job creation and infrastructure.
• Reduces Spending: Overall spends less than any previous state budget plan introduced this year. It also reduces proposed overall Medicaid spending by more than $1 billion, giving the state the opportunity to focus on finding efficiencies and improved patient outcomes.
• Investing in K-12: Invests more than $935 million new dollars into students and schools over the next two years ($351.5 million in FY16 and maintains that additional funding in FY17 and adds $233 million more), holds all districts harmless to FY15 funding amounts. It provides an opportunity for predictability and sustainability for school districts, driving additional dollars to low-wealth, low-capacity districts while ensuring more districts are on the funding formula. The Senate-passed version of the budget also implements various testing reform recommendations of the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, such as reducing hours of required testing.
• Higher Ed Affordability and Support: Makes the largest state investment in SSI (state share of instruction) for higher education in eight years. The bill also gives college students and their families the opportunity for a more affordable college education by instituting a two-year freeze on tuition rate increases and requiring Ohio’s public universities and colleges to find ways to reduce student costs by five percent.
• Support for Essential Services: Restores or provides additional funding for essential services, such as pregnancy care, breast and cervical cancer screenings for women, foodbank services, various health care and youth programs, all which give Ohioans opportunities to improve their lives, health and economic situation.
The budget bill will now return to the Ohio House of Representatives where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee in which the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires that the budget be balanced, and, by law, the bill must be signed by the Governor on or before July 1.