COLUMBUS—State Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) today announced the passage of the Ohio Senate's version of the state's biennial operating budget. The bill invests in essential public services, maintains historic levels of state aid for education and preserves key tax reforms while reducing government overhead and closing a projected revenue shortfall of roughly $1 billion.

In addition to her responsibilities as Senate Majority Whip, Manning also serves as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which is charged with developing the Senate's version of the two-year operating budget. 

"Overall, the Senate version of the budget strives to say, in no uncertain terms, that no parent should lose their son or daughter to opiates, that no child should be at a disadvantage due to a loved one's struggle with addiction," said Manning. "Fiscally responsible, this budget protects Ohio's commitments to our most vulnerable and makes education a priority."

"This budget is fiscally responsible while investing in the citizens and priorities of this state," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). "I'm proud of the work we were able to accomplish to keep our state healthy and our future hopeful."

Below are major highlights of the Senate-passed version of the budget:

Reducing Government Spending and Increasing Efficiency
  • With the state facing a projected shortfall of just over $1 billion, the Senate reduced government overhead by cutting administrative costs across state agencies an average of 3-4 percent and finding tens of millions in excess or unspent funds. This cost savings was managed with the goal of minimal impact on actual services provided.
  • The Senate also included a process for the legislature to review each executive agency every two years prior to the biennial budget with the goal of limiting duplicative state programs and ensuring the responsible allocation of state resources.

Protecting Vital Services and Programs
  • The Senate restored funding cuts to several essential services, including food banks, breast and cervical cancer screening programs, and clean water and food safety programs.
  • The Senate also included additional funding for crisis pregnancy centers, Teach for America and Special Olympics, among other essential programs.
  • Funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, especially for pregnant women and new mothers, was increased to $25 million.
  • Over $22 million was allocated for workforce training programs in the Appalachia region of Ohio, a significant increase.

Maintaining Investments in Education
  • Total state aid investments since 2013 have resulted in overall state per pupil increases of 30.5%. The Senate plan calls for an additional $154 million in state foundation aid for K-12 education in FY18 and an additional $120 million in FY19. 
  • The Senate continued to prioritize college affordability, removing a provision that would have permitted unlimited increases in tuition under the Ohio Tuition Guarantee Program, and increased funding by more than $208 million for need-based financial aid.
  • Increased funding for libraries across the state.

Fighting Ohio's Opiate Epidemic
  • The Senate includes nearly $180 million in additional funding for the opiate crisis, on top of the nearly $1 billion already spent by the state annual on drug abuse and addiction.
  • Included is $60 million in funding for child protective services and programs to support children in drug-affected families; an additional $2 million dollars over the biennium to support county coroners and criminal and forensic labs who are facing case overload issues; maintaining $20 million capital commitment for the expansion of treatment and recovery housing; funding critical upgrades to the OARRS system, a statewide effort to track prescriptions and combat prescription abuse, and adding a $5 million investment to help counties establish drug abuse response teams, among other initiatives. 

Returning More Tax Dollars to Ohioans

  • This budget eliminates the bottom two tax brackets, simplifying tax code and ensuring no Ohioan earning below $10,500 will pay income tax.
  • The Senate doubled the tax deduction families can take for college savings, as well as for the ABLE program, which allows families of children with disabilities to save for expense associated with caring for them.
  • The bill updates the state's CAUV policy for valuing land for agricultural purposes to ensure that the taxes paid by farmers are more closely tied to the income-producing potential of the land.
  • Also included is the Rural Jobs Act, which incentivizes agricultural job creation and economic development in the rural underserved areas of the state.
  • Ohio's popular Sales Tax Holiday, which provides tax relief for families and encourages retail sales and tourism, has been extended to 2018.

Amended Substitute House Bill 49 now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions can be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget signed by the governor by June 30.
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