For the first time in 12 years, a two-year state operating budget has passed the full Ohio Senate without a single “no” vote. That sends the $69 billion spending plan to a conference committee to work out conflicts with the House version of the spending plan.
Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said children and families, education, the environment and local government were the Senate’s priorities. And he defended the 8 percent income tax cut and the restoring of the $250,000 small business income tax deduction – a $700 million tax cut.
“We’re saying the best investment is to return your money, to return the money to small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy here in Ohio," Dolan said.
But in spite of their concerns, all nine Democrats voted for the budget. Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) said there was compromise and good things in the budget – but also bad things.
“The across the board tax cut that really is unnecessary. We don’t need to do this at this particular time,” Sykes said.
Changes in the Senate budget include:
- $10 million to help parents avoid giving up custody to get their kids specialized treatment
- $100 million for struggling pharmacies and new requirements on pharmacy benefits managers
- Funds the new Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with $1 million
- Permanent high school graduation requirements with non-test alternatives starting in 2023
- Grandfathers in people who will be 18 by October to buy tobacco products, though the buying age will rise to 21
- Changes the 17% tax on e-cigarettes to 1 cent per .1ML of liquid volume
- Allows charter schools to ban unvaccinated students
- Calls for a study of state school report cards with a report and recommendations due in December
- Pushes 2020 presidential primary ahead by a week to third Tuesday after the first Monday in March
- Extends moratorium on new fireworks wholesaler/dealer licenses till end of 2020
The unanimous vote, the first for a budget in the Senate since 2007, sends the budget to the conference committee – its members will be named next week. The budget must be signed into law by June 30.