Republicans in the Ohio House have added a tax cut and changes to school funding to Gov. Mike DeWine’s two year budget. And they’ve made some other changes that Democrats are calling “a mixed bag”.
The House’s $74.7 billion budget increases spending by nearly $410 million over DeWine’s plan.
It includes a 2% income tax cut totaling $380 million over two years. A document from the House outlining the highlights of the budget says of this tax cut: "Coupled with recently passed legislation (Senate Bill 18) conforming Ohio’s tax code with federal law, the House is providing a nearly $500 million personal income tax cut this biennium."
It starts an $1.8 billion increase to K-12 education over six years through the "Fair School Funding Plan", a version of the Cupp-Patterson plan that passed the House overwhelmingly last session but didn't move in the Senate. It boosting school funding by $115 million in the second year of the budget, but leaves the rest of the spending increases to future budgets. No district will lose funding during the phase in.
There’s $155 million in COVID relief aid for restaurants and bars, hotels, entertainment venues and new businesses:
- $100 million for restaurants and bars
- $25 million for the lodging industry
- $20 million for indoor and outdoor entertainment venues
- $10 million in relief for new businesses
A provision of the budget would also erase violations of health orders committed by bars starting March 14, 2020 and going till the budget takes effect. And it requires the refunding of fines paid by those liquor permit holders. More than 250 permit holders have been cited by the Ohio Investigative Unit for violating health orders such as allowing in more patrons than the maximum capacity and not enforcing social distancing or mask wearing.
But the House cut DeWine’s gun law changes, part of his so-called "Strong Ohio" plan he'd proposed after the Dayton mass shooting in 2019. He'd wanted to expand the ability to perform background checks on gun sales, increased the ability for courts to confiscate firearms, and increased penalties for people who commit violent crimes with a gun.
The budget also cuts DeWine's increase to his H2Ohio Lake Erie clean up program. He'd wanted to spend $120 million each year, but the House version cuts that to $85 million.
The House also eliminated a $50 million ad campaign to keep people in Ohio or lure them back, a campaign that DeWine said would highlight Ohio as a "progressive state".
The state's revenues have been up over projections. For March, state income and sales tax collections were up by 2.6% over forecasts, and above estimates by 4.3% year-to-date.
Hearings on the budget continue in the Ohio House Finance Committee this week. The budget must pass the House and Senate by the end of June.
NOTE: this story has been updated to reflect that $115 million was added to K-12 education, not $150 million as previously reported.