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Cirino Praises Senate Budget for Tax Cuts, Education Reforms, and Crucial Investments

June 7, 2023
Jerry C. Cirino News

COLUMBUS—Senator Jerry C. Cirino (R-Kirtland) strongly supports the Senate's two-year $85.7 billion budget bill announced today, the result of a process in which he was intimately involved as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Workforce & Higher Education Committee. The bill includes significant reforms for education policy, tax policy, and housing programs that are focused on results.

"What we were able to accomplish is pretty incredible," said Cirino. "We've got a $1.5 billion dollar income tax cut along with a $1.3 billion dollar spending increase for public schools, more state aid than they've ever received. The two-week extended sales tax holiday will be a boon for families, and our billion-dollar strategic investment fund will be great for communities all across the state."
Cirino was also gratified the budget provides funding he has worked long and hard to obtain for two exemplary organizations. The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood will receive $400,000 over the next two fiscal years to pursue its mission of building bridges of tolerance and understanding, serving as an educational resource for Northeast Ohio, and ensuring the impact of the Holocaust is never forgotten.

The Friendship Circle of Cleveland will receive the same funding to help run programs for more than 200 children with special needs of all denominations, and their families. The group also facilitates friendships between Jewish high school teens and the children.  

Senator Cirino is pleased to announce the budget also provides $400 million over the next two fiscal years to the Ohio Department of Higher Education to administer the Ohio College Opportunity Grant program. The grant money is provided to Ohio residents with the highest levels of financial need who are enrolled at Ohio public colleges or universities, Ohio private, non-profit colleges or universities, and Ohio private, for-profit institutions.

Cirino agreed with Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) that this year's budget, in addition to providing significant tax relief and record funding for public schooling, was the right time and place to enact much needed reform and investments.
“Challenging the status quo is difficult,” said Huffman. “Now is the time to make the bold changes necessary to focus on the results our taxpayers should demand, the results our parents should expect for their children’s education and the results our state desperately needs to revitalize crumbling neighborhoods in our city centers.”
 Providing Increased State Aid For K-12 Students &
Universal School Choice For Families
The Senate school funding plan maintains the updated 2022 salary/spending data used in the methodology for determining the base cost. Foundation funding for students in public schools under the Senate plan is $9.3 billion in FY24 and almost $9.6 billion in FY25 — $1.3 billion more than FY23.
“Overall, the Senate plan provides more state aid to public schools than any other time in state history,” said Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). “We increase the minimum state share from 5% to 10% to ensure that all districts are getting adequate state support.” 
All districts will receive at least the level of state aid they received this school year; however two guarantees in the current formula are eliminated.

A $106.8 million guarantee going to 36 districts to pay for resident students who received state scholarships to attend nonpublic schools or those who attended community schools is eliminated in the Senate’s plan. The state now directly funds students where they are educated making this give-away a wasteful use of taxpayer funds. The Senate plan also eliminates the FY20 guarantee.
“Results matter — students who cannot read will not be ready for the challenges that they will face in life,” continued Dolan. “This is why the Senate plan reprioritized the Governor’s proposal to better equip teachers in effective reading instruction and provide updated books and instructional materials. ”
This proposed historic level of state support comes at a time when public school districts have accumulated higher-than-ever cash balances. Districts have seen tremendous growth in their cash reserves in recent years—from $3.7 billion ten years ago to $9.2 billion today. 

Two Franklin County districts alone have cash balances approaching half a billion dollars.
South-Western City Schools          $250 million
Columbus City Schools                  $235 million  
 Parents’ Education Choices Matter
Flexibility and options are key for today’s families and students. Parents should have options and alternatives to consider when deciding what is best for their family
The Senate’s budget makes an Ed Choice Scholarship universally available to every Ohio student based on a sliding scale of income eligibility that is funded by the state.
Families earning 450% of the federal poverty level ($135,000 for a family of four) will qualify for a full scholarship funded by the state. That is $6,165 for K-8 students and $8,407 for high school students. Scholarships for students in families within incomes above 450% will be means-tested with scholarship amounts adjusted based on their income. Every student in Ohio will be eligible for a scholarship worth at least 10% of the maximum scholarship regardless of income.
“Parents know what is best for their children,” said President Huffman. “Every parent wants the best for their son or daughter, and where they go to school can make all the difference.”
 K-12 Accountability
As part of this reform, the Senate budget plan includes historic reforms to the Department of Education and to the duties of the State School Board. The plan restructures the Department of Education into the Department of Education and Workforce, which will fall under the authority of the Executive Branch of government.

This structural change provides significant much needed accountability over the department regarding education policy development and implementation that will greatly improve its operations.
“Anyone who has had a recent experience trying to work with the Ohio Department of Education knows that the education bureaucracy has to change,” said President Huffman. “This will bring accountability to the department making it clear they work for Ohio parents and taxpayers.”
 Flattening the Tax Code Generates $1.5 billion Tax Cut for Ohioans
Senate Republicans believe that it’s your money first, and not the government’s money. Over the past four General Assemblies the Senate has reduced the overall number of income tax brackets from 9 to 4.

Now, that number will be two.

Phased in over the biennium, the marginal rates will be 2.75% over $26,050 and 3.5% over $92,150. Ohioans making less $26,051 will pay zero income taxes.

“This reform rewards the workforce,” said Senator Dolan. “Higher income taxes penalize the work ethic and success stories of hard-
working Ohioans that drive our economy.”

Also included in Senate’s economic package is a two-week extended sales tax holiday period.
 Welcome Home Ohio
The Senate introduced the “Welcome Home Ohio” program to preserve, protect and encourage home ownership.

The program invests $150 million across three categories through the Ohio Department of Development.$50 million directed to Ohio Landbanks and municipalities to apply for
$30,000 loans per parcel for renovations of single-family homes.
$50 million for income tax credits for not for profit organizations who focus on renovations for single family homes.
$50 million for the purchase of foreclosed properties and establishes a first right of refusal for Land Banks to help ensure homes are available for families in need instead of large rental companies. 
“Abandoned and dilapidated homes are more than an eyesore,” said Senate President Matt Huffman. “They are a missed opportunity to
revitalize a neighborhood and put families who need a home, in a home.”

To qualify, homes must be owner occupied. For example, the mom or dad who applies, must also live there.

People with incomes less than 80% of the average median income qualify and final sales prices are capped at $180,000.Welcome Home Qualifications
Home purchaser must have an income of less than 80% AMI, be able to secure financing (mortgage) for the home, and participate in a minimum of one year of home ownership counseling including financial counseling 
A home owner must also sign an agreement that they will live in the home and not sell the property to an investor
Homes must be a minimum of 1,000 sq. ft. and be built or remodeled to local construction standards and design specifications
Final sale price of the home is capped at $180,000, with a 20- year deed restriction that the home will be owner-occupied
One Time Strategic Community Investment Fund
In an effort to keep the Operating Budget from turning into a special project heavy Mini-Transportation Budget or Capital Budget, the Senate
included a One Time Billion Dollar Strategic Community Investment Fund.

“Rather than funding a spectrum of requested district projects, this $1 billion fund gives members in the House and Senate an additional year to plan and craft proposals for meaningful and impactful projects,” said Finance Chair, Senator MattDolan.

Qualifying projects could include both transportation and community plans.

The Senate Budget also funds the Governor’s existing “Ready Made” program for construction projects that are ready to break ground.

The budget bill will work its way through the Senate Finance Committee and then onto a floor vote the following week. The Ohio Constitution requires that the budget be balanced and passed by the end of June.