COLUMBUS - State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) today announced the Senate passage of Substitute House Bill 64, 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 tax relief for hardworking Ohioans and small business owners. 

"This budget makes a tremendous investment in Ohio," said Lehner. "By cutting taxes for families and small businesses and increasing funding for our K-12 schools by nearly $1 billion, we are sending a message that Ohio is a state of unlimited opportunity and potential."

The Senate budget includes a number of amendments submitted by Senator Lehner, including:
  • Improving State Testing: A list of recommendations developed by the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing includes the following provisions: shortens the length and frequency of state tests, improves transparency by making tests more accessible to the public, and provides a "safe harbor" to ensure that students, teachers and schools are not penalized for results this year during the transition to a new testing system.
  • Promoting Early Childhood Education: Provides $40 million to help licensed child care programs move to higher tiers in the Ohio Department of Education's tiered quality and improvement system. The amendment also stipulates that a certain percentage of students must be served in schools rated at least three stars or above by 2025.
  • Increasing Parental Involvement: Establishes a five-year parental engagement pilot program partnering Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) with an institution of higher education. In an effort to improve student performance, DECA and its partner will offer coaching classes on parental involvement.

"These budget provisions represent months of collaboration with parents, teachers and schools to improve outcomes for Ohio's students," Lehner said. "First and foremost, we need to focus on positioning our students for success in the classroom and in the future workplace."

The Senate budget also includes an amendment to maintain the current Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit while requiring the Ohio Development Services Agency to study and prepare a report on the merits of converting the tax credit into a grant program.

Among the other major highlights in the bill, the Senate-passed budget:
  • 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% 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: Spends less overall than any previous state budget plan introduced this year to date. 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) and 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: Appropriates $33 million over the biennium to the Department of Developmental Disabilities' Medicaid Services to correct unintentional funding reductions from caseload estimates. It also restores or provides additional funding for essential services, such as pregnancy care, breast and cervical cancer screenings for women, foodbank services, various healthcare, arts and youth programs, all of which give Ohioans opportunities to improve their lives, health and economic situations.
The bill will now return to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions. 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.

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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