Ohio House To Vote On Budget; Includes Tax Cut, School Funding Changes

Apr 21, 2021

The Ohio House will vote on its version of the two-year state budget Wednesday, after it cleared a House committee with all Republicans and two Democrats voting for it. But there are still questions about the changes to the school funding formula in it.

House Finance chair Scott Oelslager (R-Canton) said the budget includes a 2% income tax cut that will cost the state $380 million over two years.

Some critics have suggested that money could be invested in other needs.

But Oelslager said: “We believe philosophically that it's better. The individuals work hard to earn those dollars and they deserve to stay in their pockets. So that's why we're doing it."

And as for a lawsuit over a provision in the American Rescue Plan that would limit the state's ability to offer tax cuts, Oeslager said: "We feel confident we can proceed until, of course, that there's other guidance that comes down. But right now, we feel very confident from the information we received that we can proceed with a tax cut."

The budget also includes an $1.8 billion overhaul to the funding formula for school state aid.

Oelslager said $115 million more was added for K-12 education, and Republican leaders had said when the House version of the budget was released last week that no school district would lose money over the six-year phase-in.

But a document posted on the House Finance Committee’s website listing each district’s dollar total shows 96 of 608 districts will get less state money over six years in the current version of the budget.

One of the sponsors of the school funding overhaul, Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord), had said that was based on school district numbers put out with the budget sub bill last week

But the document posted on the House website Wednesday night appears to be identical to the one reviewed by the Statehouse News Bureau earlier Wednesday.

All Republicans on the committee voted for the budget, along with Democratic Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Dan Troy (D-Willowick).

Democrats had proposed 17 amendments to the omnibus budget amendment, increasing funding for child care, libraries, rental assistance, lead abatement, home health care and colleges. Others would waive tax collections for jobless benefits overpayments, repeal a ban on public funds for abortion providers and restore funding to the H2Ohio Lake Erie cleanup program.

There was also a Democratic proposal to restore some language in DeWine's budget which changed a reference in state law on adoptive parents from "husband and wife" to "legally married couple." House Republicans reversed that.

House Republicans rejected all of these amendments.