Ohio lawmakers approve $6B spending bill during lame duck
Ohio lawmakers have passed a bill during lame duck allocating $6 billion for a variety of projects and needs. Most of the spending is one-time money from federal COVID-19 relief funds.
The bill gives schools $1.75 billion, allocates more than $498 million for child care services, and another $350 million for nursing homes.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks said the bill gives them $25 million of the $90 million dollars they were seeking. She said that will help food banks with basic operations but hopes lawmakers will address some of the big-ticket problems soon.
“The replacement of trucks, infrastructure, building repairs. We have one food bank over in Springfield that basically is collapsing on them. It’s got some structural issues," Hamler-Fugitt said.
Hamler-Fugitt said she is hoping the new legislature will address these issues in the upcoming two-year state budget in the spring.
The bill also gives $250 million for grants through the Ohio Department of Development's water and sewer quality program and $75 million for Honda to make some local water and sewer upgrades for one of its projects.
The spending plan includes $150 million for lead abatement. And it includes $85 million for behavioral health projects at state colleges and universities, as well as training or retraining people who work in behavioral health.
One late addition to the bill includes $35 million for capital expenditures for the Cleveland Guardians and Dayton Dragons. It doles out $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the state's minor league sports teams.
Housing advocates expressed concern that an amendment that was added late in the process could increase property tax liability on many types of senior and workforce housing developments without considering federal and state restriction on rents.
Matt Rule, senior vice president of housing and development for National Church Residences, said that amendment would overturn the way the value of affordable housing developments is assessed.
“The demand on Ohio’s rental market has increased at unprecedented levels over the past two years, exacerbating what was already a severe shortage of senior and workforce housing in Ohio. This unvetted amendment will raise costs on workforce and senior housing developments and result in even fewer struggling families and seniors having a safe, decent home that they can afford,” said Rule.
This spending bill is on the way to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk now. Since his office has worked with lawmakers throughout this process, it is expected that he will approve most, if not all, of the bill.