STATEHOUSE - 

State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) today 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. 

“The Senate’s changes to the main operating budget bill will provide substantial income and small business tax cuts and meaningful reductions in Medicaid cost," said Eklund. "The Senate’s version assures that no school districts will be funded below their 2015 levels. It continues our ongoing efforts to help Ohioans keep more of their money, attract jobs and investment and care for truly needy Ohioans.”

The Senate budget includes a number of amendments submitted by Senator Eklund, including: 

  • Support for Mental Health and Addiction Services: The Senate proposal provides funding for prevention and wellness services which will be allocated to Northeast Ohio Medical University’s campus safety and health programs.
     
  • Services for Victims: Provides new funding to assist the Chardon School District to provide comprehensive support for the school community in the wake of the 2012 Chardon school tragedy. This program offers support services for students after they have completed their high school coursework.
     
  • Addresses Water Drainage Issues: Provides funding for the Portage County-Aurora East storm water project and works toward a long term solution to area flooding issues that have strained local resources.
     
  • Enhances Alzheimer’s Support Programs: Provides critical support for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, including respite caregiver support; adult day care; guardianship programs; elder protection; nutrition assistance and more.

"These measures will, I hope, help to enhance life for the residents of my Senate district in very targeted, purposeful ways," Eklund remarked. 

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 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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