STATEHOUSE - 

State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) today announced the Senate’s passage of the state’s two-year budget proposal with vote of 23-10. The bill includes substantial new funding for education and assistance for hardworking Ohioans and small business owners. 

“I am glad to see this budget help hard-working families in Southeast Ohio,” Balderson said. “It drives funding to southeastern counties for programs that matter most to the people in my district.”

The Senate budget includes a number of amendments supported by Senator Balderson, including: 

  • Recruiting Quality Teachers for the Appalachian Region: Senator Balderson’s amendment provides appropriations for the Ohio Appalachian Teaching Fellowship Pilot Program, which will be run through an education non-profit to recruit and train aspiring teachers, providing them with a unique curriculum, summer internships, and scholarships, contingent upon their agreement to return to an Appalachian county to teach for at least four years.
  • Connecting Rural Ohioans with Broadband: Senator Balderson’s amendment appropriates funds to Connect Ohio for community technology assistance, broadband inventory mapping and analytics, research and benchmarking, and statewide broadband assessments and planning.
  • Linking Appalachia to a New Economy: Senator Balderson’s amendment continues funding for the Appalachian New Economy Partnership, run through Ohio University. The Partnership is a network of programs and services that help to expand venture capital, as well as an innovation platform for developing technology and companies in the region.
  • Improving OhioMeansJobs Program for High Demand Workforce: The Senate plan improves upon the OhioMeansJobs Revolving Loan Fund, which was created with the passage of Senate Bill 1 in the 130th General Assembly. Provisions in the amendment help to ensure that the program runs more efficiently, and will be available for students in high-demand workforce programs this fall.
     
  • Off-setting Costs for School Transportation: The budget plan drives additional dollars through a new transportation supplement  to rural school districts to offset high transportation costs that are typical for higher mileage districts.

“The purpose of these amendments is to provide the district with the programs and resources that they need most,” said Senator Balderson. “I look forward to the educational and economic benefits that this year’s amendments are sure to bring.”

Among the major highlights in the bill, the Senate plan:

  • 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 increases to $584.5 million in FY17), 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 be referred to a conference committee where 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 by July 1.

The Ohio Channel will begin broadcasting the Conference Committee at 10:00am on Friday, June 19, 2015. To watch the live stream, visit http://www.ohiochannel.org/

 
 
 
  
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