On a mostly party line vote, the Ohio House has approved the version of the $74.4 billion two-year state budget that was proposed by Republican leadership.
The House version of the budget was mostly unchanged from when it was introduced a week ago.
It includes a 2% across-the-board income tax cut that will cost the state around $38 million dollars over two years. The House budget also incorporates a $1.8 billion school funding formula overhaul, with $150 million more added in. But Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposals on gun regulations were stripped out, along with a $50 million ad campaign to market Ohio and some language on who can adopt children in Ohio.
Minority leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said on the House floor the budget’s winners include public schools but also wealthy Ohioans, who an analysis from Policy Matters Ohio says will benefit the most from the tax cut. She said the losers include single mothers, since Republicans didn't include a refundable income tax credit, and local governments and libraries, which saw some funding cuts.
“I’m here to stand with middle class Ohioans, the environment, direct care workers, and to make sure that we have a better COVID response," Sykes said.
Republicans have said the tax cut returns more money to taxpayers.
Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said after the vote that he’s not concerned about the tax cut being prohibited in the latest federal COVID relief package.
“We funded our tax cut with state dollars so we think we’re on pretty solid ground," Cupp said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit over the provision in the American Rescue Plan that bans states getting COVID relief from using it for tax cuts.
The budget also features millions in COVID relief for businesses and the arts and erases COVID violations for bars, and it cuts the amount of Lake Erie cleanup funds DeWine wanted.
It took a little over a week from the introduction of the House budget till its approval. The Senate now gets the budget with a June 30 deadline.