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Senator Cirino Praises Record Tax Cuts and Historic Education Initiatives in Final Budget

June 30, 2023
Jerry C. Cirino News

COLUMBUS—Senator Jerry C. Cirino (R-Kirtland) says the two-year state $86.1 billion operating budget passed by the General Assembly today is an impressive accomplishment that will serve Ohioans well. Cirino was intimately involved in formulating the budget, as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Workforce & Higher Education Committee. The senator also served on the conference committee that negotiated the final details of House Bill 33 with representatives of the House.

"I am most gratified this budget will do so much for the hardworking people of Ohio, especially the record tax cut that will put a significant amount of hard-earned money back in their hands, where it belongs," said Cirino. "And with the record tax cuts for businesses, we are well positioned to boost prosperity and opportunity for all Ohioans for years to come. It's amazing we were able to provide both historic tax relief and record funding for funding for our public schools, as well as expand school choice."

"I am also particularly pleased we were able to include my bill providing some of the most significant higher education initiatives in state history," Cirino added. 

Protecting Free Speech and Diversity at Public Universities
Those vital policy reforms are intended to make sure our public universities protect free speech and diversity of thought on campus and especially in the classroom.

The budget includes Senate Bill 117, cosponsored by Cirino and Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) establishing independent academic centers at five of Ohio's public universities. The bill creates the Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leadership within the University of Toledo’s College of Law to better prepare law students through civil discourse and rigorous inquiry, regardless of their philosophical viewpoint.

The bill also creates the Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture, and Society at the Ohio State University, as well as similar civic engagement centers at Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, and Cleveland State University.

The installation of five separate higher education institutes in this budget is a first in the nation of this magnitude. “This is a giant leap in the right direction for higher education in Ohio,” said Senator Cirino. “The purpose of these centers is to engage students of all viewpoints in the fundamental questions concerning American society by employing rigorous debate, intellectual freedom and mutual respect.”

The bill requires the Salmon P. Chase Center at Ohio State University to offer instruction in:

  • The books and major debates which form the intellectual foundation of free societies, especially that of the United States.
  • The principles, ideals, and institutions of the American constitutional order.
  • The foundations of responsible leadership and informed citizenship.

The bill requires all five centers to:

  • Educate students by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth.
  • Equip students with the skills, habits, and dispositions of mind they need to reach their own informed conclusions on matters of legal, social, and political importance.
  • Value intellectual diversity in higher education and aspire to enhance the intellectual diversity of the university. 
  • Affirm a commitment to an ethic of civil and free inquiry which respects the intellectual freedom of each member, supports individual capacities for growth, and welcomes the differences of opinion that naturally occur in a public university community.

Provisions Benefitting District 18 Including Greater Cleveland  

  • $100,000 in each fiscal year to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. for Autism to administer an interprofessional collaborative pilot program for the purpose of training professionals in The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach.
  • $200,000 in each fiscal year for distribution to the Friendship Circle of Cleveland to provide family support services and respite care for children with disabilities and their families.
  • $150,000 in each fiscal year for NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts and Technology to support at-risk adult learner healthcare professional certification and job placement.
  • $150,000 in FY 2024 for the University Circle Inc., Circle Scholars and Circle Explorers Program.
  • $5,000,000 in fiscal year 2024 to support the Bacon Road Pump Station construction project in Lake County.
  • 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.

Economic Development

Cirino praised the wisdom in providing a billion dollars for Governor DeWine’s economic development plan that will prepare sites to attract new business expansion, and build upon the success of attracting the Intel chipmaking plant to Ohio.

This one-time billion-dollar Strategic Community Investment Fund will gives legislators, local officials, community leaders, and others, a year to plan, craft proposals, and request funding for significant projects with great potential. Qualifying projects could include both transportation and community plans. 

The budget also includes $3 million the senator secured for the remediation of the Mentor Harbor Erosion Mitigation project.

Historic Funding Increase for K-12 Education
The budget includes includes historic funding and policy reforms focused on accountability and more options for parents.

The budget adds an additional $1.97 billion funding for public schools. That’s a 12.9% increase over the biennium. Total Foundation funding for students in public schools is a record $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2024 and $9.9 billion in fiscal year 2025, totaling nearly $2 billion more for public schools.
Income and Business Tax Cuts

Cirino was particularly pleased with the the historic $3 billion in tax relief. The senator praised a move toward a fair and simplified flat tax approach, as the budget reduces the number of tax brackets to only two over the biennium. The marginal rates will be 2.75% over $26,050 and 3.5% over $100,000. Ohioans making $26,051 or less pay no income taxes. Eight years ago there were nine tax brackets in Ohio.

As significant as the income tax cut, Cirino said, is a historic change that means almost 90% of Ohio’s businesses will no longer have to pay any Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). The budget provides significant tax relief by not requiring  businesses to pay taxes on the first $3 million of gross receipts in the first year of the budget, and pay no taxes on the first $6 million of gross receipts in the next year. The net effect is the CAT rate was cut by 25%.

The senator called an extended sales tax holiday in August that will run two weeks "a boon for Ohio families."

Parents’ Education Choices Matter
Flexibility and options are key for today’s families and students. Parents should have an option.
The budget makes Ed Choice Scholarships funded by the state universally available to every Ohio student based on a sliding scale of income eligibility.. 
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 that where their children attend school makes a difference,” said Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima). “Children should never dread going to class, and parents should always have confidence that their children are walking into a positive, results-focused learning environment.” 

Department of Education Accountability
The budget 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 and much needed accountability over the department regarding education policy development and implementation that will greatly improve its operations.

Protecting Professional Integrity

Senator Cirino responded to concerns he heard from constituents in the barber and cosmetology professions. He worked hard to ensure the training hours for those professions were not reduced to what was proposed in the initial budget draft. Those hours will remain as they are now, in order to protect the integrity of these professions and to ensure new hires are properly trained.

The budget now goes to Governor Mike DeWine to be signed into law.