Finance Committee Chair: Ohio School Funding Overhaul Is Dead In Senate

Dec 8, 2020

A key Republican lawmaker says the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan that passed the House overwhelmingly is dead in the Senate. 

Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said he applauds those from both parties who spent years on the Cupp-Patterson plan, which was discussed extensively before being formally introduced in June 2019. A companion bill that reflects the same proposal was introduced in the Senate last month and has had two hearings.

But three lawmakers have tested positive for coronavirus in just the last week, which he notes could cut down on committee hearings needed before a vote on the bill.

“So very limited days, we would be very crowded in there. I just don’t think it’s safe, so that’s factoring into the decision as well," Dolan said.

But Dolan said he wants studies in the school funding plan to go forward, and to use it in crafting next year’s budget.

“Great effort, great framework. As I said to people, it’s more important that this thing passes on July 1 than January 1," Dolan said, referring the state budget's deadline of July 1.

School groups have praised the plan as the first constitutional proposal for school funding since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the way Ohio pays for public schools unconstitutional in the DeRolph case in 1997.  But Dolan said he’s not convinced the plan would finally make school funding constitutional.

Dolan is also he’s concerned about the cost. It’s estimated the Cupp-Patterson plan would add around $2 billion more than the $10 billion the state already spends each year on K-12 education. There are some suggestions the price tag could be higher than that, though school groups dispute those.