Two-year state budget moves to Ohio Senate, where Republican leader plans big changes
The House version of the two-year state budget passed overwhelmingly, with most Republicans and all but two Democrats voting for it.
Now it moves to the Ohio Senate, where the Republican leader says he wants to make some big changes.
The House budget eliminates income taxes for people making under $26,050, and combines the bottom two tax brackets and lowers the rate to 2.75% for people making under $96,000.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the state’s cost of the House’s middle-class income tax cut is around $200 million.
“That's a better way to do an income tax cut than some of the ways we have done, which is lowering the top rate. So I think that's a good idea," Huffman said. "I do think that we need to expand it so it truly is a $800 million to a billion dollar tax cut.”
And that suggests a tax cut on the top two remaining tax brackets.
Huffman is a longtime supporter of taxpayer-paid school vouchers, and said there could be a further expansion of vouchers in the Senate budget. And he also said the bill to overhaul the Ohio Department of Education could be added into the Senate’s budget. That overhaul, which is Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 12, would rename ODE as the Department of Education and Workforce and would move many of the duties of the state board of education to a cabinet-level director appointed by the governor.
But the leader of the chamber's Democrats is hoping to go another direction.
Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said she's working with a Republican senator on a refundable earned income tax credit in the budget, which can give low-income people tax refunds.
"Our plan is to offer companion amendments that would have a strategy for doing that, because I think if if we're hearing the messaging from the House, which says we we really want to provide a middle class tax credit," Antonio said. "Well, for lack of a better way of saying it, that's great. We would like to also then I think and I support that, we would also like to see if we can't do something similar for low income people."
And as for the ODE overhaul making it into the Senate budget, Antonio said she thinks that's "disingenuous."
"If people who are offering that bill believe in it and say that it's important to do, then it should be able to stand alone," Antonio said.