The Ohio Senate today approved House Bill 59, the state’s biennium budget proposal, which includes at its cornerstone a $1.4 billion tax cut for Ohio’s small businesses and a $717 million increase in state education funding, the largest legislative investment in education in more than 10 years. Announced by State Senator Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville), the nearly $62 billion bill acts as the state operating budget for the two-year period beginning on July 1, 2013.

Small businesses employ approximately half of Ohio’s private-sector workforce and make up nearly 98 percent of all businesses in the state. In the past two and a half years, Ohio has created more than 115,000 jobs and gone from the nation’s 48th in job creation to being the number one job creator in the Midwest. The Senate’s $1.4 billion tax cut aims to continue Ohio’s economic progress and stimulate the state’s economy by encouraging increased investment and payroll expansion by these job creators.

The budget proposal also now includes the Senate’s plan to improve education funding in Ohio, “Supporting Achievement Everywhere.” The initiative seeks to adequately care for the educational needs of all Ohio children by distributing resources among more districts and increasing overall funding.

The Senate’s education plan also identifies and targets specific categories for additional funding to ensure that the money is not just spent, but invested. These categories include gifted education, career-tech training, and the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Included in the $717 million education funding increase is a $30 million investment in early childhood education and $100 million for the “Straight A Fund,” which rewards schools for measures that promote innovation and efficiency.

Senator Manning sponsored an amendment to the bill that will appropriate a $1 million grant to purchase portable welding stations and other high level, advanced training equipment for Lorain County Community College.

“LCCC is a valuable regional asset in our area,” said Manning. “I continue to be proud of the outstanding work done at this institution to prepare our friends and neighbors for new careers and I am glad that the state is able to invest in this important education facility.”

Manning also sponsored an amendment to provide $100,000 to fund Ready to Learn for the operation of the “Ready, Set, Go... to Kindergarten” program in Lorain County.

Among other Senate-authorized changes to the legislation, the bill now permits the adoption of plans to modernize the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation payment system, which is expected to save the state up to $900 million. The Senate also increased funding for children’s crisis care facilities, added $1 million to fight human trafficking in Ohio, and added more than $26 million to the Clean Ohio Program, which provides for the preservation of greenspaces and rehabilitation of former industrial sites.

The bill will now be returned to the Ohio House of Representatives where it is expected to 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 on or before July 1st.

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