COLUMBUS – Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Ohio House of Representatives set to pass a 2% income tax cut and nearly $ 2 billion school funding overhaul. dollars in their two-year version of the state budget.
The fate of this new six-year school funding formula is grim. Senate Speaker Matt Huffman R-Lima said he doesn’t like the price, and the GOP-controlled Senate is working on its own way of paying schools.
Even with the increased spending, nearly 100 school districts will lose money over the six-year period. Lawmakers added $ 115 million on Tuesday afternoon to make sure no district loses money in the first year, said Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, who heads the House finance committee. .
House lawmakers passed the budget in committee, 24-9, Tuesday and the bill is expected in the House on Wednesday.
Another key change – a 2% cut in income tax across the board – could violate the ban on states offering tax cuts if they receive federal stimulus dollars. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, challenges this provision in court, but the matter has not been resolved.
House Speaker Bob Cupp R-Lima said House Republicans still wanted to include the cut.
“Budgeting is a multi-step process so we wanted to make it our priority,” Cupp said. “We will receive more guidance as the process progresses and will adjust accordingly.”
Democrats are skeptical that lowering taxes is helping the average Ohioan a lot. Only those who earn $ 200,000 or more would save more than $ 100 per year, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy of the liberal think tank Policy Matters Ohio.
According to the analysis, three-fifths of state income tax filers – who earn less than $ 61,000 a year – would get 7% of the total tax cut.
Still, Oelslager said the change is about philosophy: “We philosophically believe that people work hard to make those dollars and that they deserve to stay in their pockets.”
The budget of more than $ 74 billion over two years would also eliminate fines and penalties that restaurants and bars incur for violating the state’s COVID-19 protocols. If approved, the change would be Republican lawmakers’ last effort to curb the power and influence of Governor Mike DeWine health department.
“The idea is that we have to help these businesses get back on their feet, and that’s going to be one way to do it,” Cupp said of the change.
The House withdrew several of DeWine’s proposals, including a Ohio $ 50 Million Advertising Campaign, tougher penalties for firearms offenders and the power to shut down nursing homes deemed dangerous.
Lawmakers also cut $ 2 million to address the social determinants of health and improve health equity for Ohioans. Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to restore that money and add $ 100 million for public health.
“We are facing a public health crisis,” said Rep. Erica Crawley, D-Columbus. “But even before we embarked on the pandemic, we already know that it was having negative effects on the health of black and brown communities and people in rural Ohio. The pandemic has only exacerbated these negative health effects.
Lawmakers also cut $ 72 million over two years for H2Ohio, the governor’s plan to improve water quality statewide and reduce harmful algal blooms. Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, attempted to restore that money, but her effort was rejected.
Other changes included:
- Allow parents to exclude their child from national standardized tests, such as SAT or ACT, from July 2022.
- Prohibit park districts in certain counties of use of the eminent domain for cycle paths and footpaths.
- Allow the sale of alcohol at bingo games.
- Removed wording proposed by DeWine to clarify that any legally married couple, including LGBTQ in Ohio, can adopt. Even without the language, couples can still adopt in Ohio. “In terms of the ability to adopt, I don’t think there’s an impact at all,” Oelslager said of the change. “It’s just a change in semantics between what the governor proposed and what we put in this bill.”
Several Democratic proposals were rejected, including:
- Addition of $ 200 million for rent and assistance to utilities.
- Increased money for the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which represents consumers in utility matters.
- Temporary increase in money for local government fund and public library fund to compensate for losses resulting from income tax reduction
- Repeal a law that prevents Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds and withdraw $ 6 million for emergency pregnancy centers that oppose abortions.