The Ohio House voted 85-9 on Thursday in favor of a two-year state operating budget bill that is stocked with income tax breaks, tightening a business tax break, a boost in the minimum salary for Ohio teachers and more.
House Bill 166, which runs 3,534-pages, lays out how Ohio will spend $69.8-billion in fiscal year 2020 and $71.7 billion in fiscal year 2021. That includes $24.9 billion in FY20 and $26 billion in FY21 for Ohio Medicaid, the state and federally funded health care program for low-income and disabled Ohioans.
In a shift from recent years, the budget boosts spending for foster care, mental health services for children, K-12 education and legal representation for people too poor to afford a lawyer and reduces taxes for low-income Ohioans.
“Lower income and kids are the people that are hurting in our communities now in this state. We are starting to turn the corner on the tremendous addiction that we’ve had in our communities,” said Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford. “And now it’s time to focus on these communities and these families that have been horrendously impacted by the opioid crisis in this state.”
The bill also would raise the purchase age to 21, up from 18, for tobacco and vaping products. The American Cancer Society said the language needs to be stronger to include enforcement and penalties.
Here is a rundown on some major changes that lawmakers included in the budget.
Eliminate state income taxes for those earning less than $22,500 a year and give a 6.6 percent cut for everyone else;
Reduce the business income deduction that allows partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs to pay no state income tax on the first $250,000 to the first $100,000;
Wipe out the state’s motion picture tax credit; and
Require ride sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to collect sales taxes on behalf of the drivers.
The House Republicans say overall, the tax changes will result in a net cut of $108 million.
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said the changes will help Ohio’s low-income and middle-income families.
Increase the minimum base salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree to $30,000, up from $20,000;
Add $1-million in funding for the Federal Research Network, which is housed at Wright State Research Institute;
Spend an additional $125-million over the biennium — on top of Gov. Mike DeWine’s $500-million proposal — for K-12 school districts to provide mental health and support service to at-risk students;
Earmark $20 million for school districts to buy new buses;
Establish a program to provide free breakfast for all students at schools where more than 70 percent of kids are eligible for free or reduced meals;
Increase state funding for colleges and universities through the state share of instruction, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and a scholarship program for students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees.
Let community and technical colleges charge an additional $5 per credit hour fee;
Allow school districts to share security tax levy money with charter schools;
Address the issue of “surprise billing” patients sometimes encounter when receiving emergency room care by mandating providers be paid either in-network or out-of-network rates, whichever is higher.
Create one uniform pharmacy benefits manager contract for Medicaid managed care and mandate quarterly disclosures about costs, conflicts of interest, rebate dollars and other information; and
Create a reimbursement program for county jails that have medication assisted treatment programs for inmates with opioid addictions.
DeWine’s proposal for a new $900 million H2Ohio Fund, which would pay for water quality initiatives over the next decade, is scaled back to $86 million for the first two years. Instead, lawmakers will deal with the long-term water protection in a separate bill.
The budget bill now moves to the Ohio Senate for consideration.
The two legislative chambers are expected to hammer out a final version of the budget bill by the end of June. The governor has line-item veto authority within a budget bill, so he can strike out items he doesn’t like. The General Assembly, though, can override each veto item.
The new state fiscal year begins July 1.
Among the nine voting against the budget were local representatives: John Becker, Bill Dean, Candice Keller and Jena Powell.