The Ohio Senate today approved House Bill 59, the state’s biennium budget proposal, which includes at its cornerstone a $1.4 billion tax cut for Ohio’s small businesses and a $717 million increase in state education funding, the largest legislative investment in education in more than 10 years. Announced by State Senator Joe Uecker (R–Miami Township), the nearly $62 billion bill acts as the state operating budget for the two-year period beginning on July 1, 2013.
“I am pleased to support a budget that help’s grow Ohio’s economy and creates a strong future for the children of the 14th District,” said Senator Uecker.
Small businesses employ approximately half of Ohio’s private-sector workforce and make up nearly 98 percent of all businesses in the state. In the past two and a half years, Ohio has created more than 115,000 jobs and gone from the nation’s 48th in job creation to being the number one job creator in the Midwest. The Senate’s $1.4 billion tax cut aims to continue Ohio’s economic progress and stimulate the state’s economy by encouraging increased investment and payroll expansion by these job creators.
The budget proposal also now includes the Senate’s plan to improve education funding in Ohio, “Supporting Achievement Everywhere.” The initiative seeks to adequately care for the educational needs of all Ohio children by distributing resources among more districts and increasing overall funding.
The Senate’s education plan also identifies and targets specific categories for additional funding to ensure that the money is not just spent, but invested. These categories include gifted education, career-tech training, and the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Included in the $717 million education funding increase is a $30 million investment in early childhood education and $100 million for the “Straight A Fund,” which rewards schools for measures that promote innovation and efficiency.
Among the Senate changes, Senator Uecker sponsored an amendment to increase the veterans’ hall tax exemption cap from $10,000 to $36,000.
“In these tough economic times many veterans’ organizations are struggling to keep their doors open,” said Uecker. “Expanding the veterans property tax exemption cap will allow many organizations to continue serving our communities and offer those who have served our county so bravely a place to congregate.”
The Finance Committee also accepted Senator Uecker’s amendment to prohibit an ambulatory surgical facility that performs abortions from having a written transfer agreement with a public hospital and another to impose a 45-day deadline for the Department of Health to review and process a contract application to act as a WIC vendor to speed up the certification process for Ohio businesses.
The bill will now be returned to the Ohio House of Representatives where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires that the budget be balanced and, by law, the bill must be signed by the Governor on or before July 1st.