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Senator Cirino Praises Senate Budget for Historic Tax Cut and Education Reform

June 15, 2023
Jerry C. Cirino News

COLUMBUS—Senator Jerry C. Cirino (R-Kirtland) strongly supports the final version of the two-year $85.8 billion budget bill the Senate passed today, particularly the historic $3.1 billion in tax relief. Cirino was intimately involved in formulating the budget, as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Workforce & Higher Education Committee. 

"This record tax cut is the best thank you we could give to the hardworking taxpayers of Ohio, returning billions of their hard-earned dollars," said Cirino. "It's also the best way to increase opportunity and prosperity for families and small businesses across the state. Add to that, record funding for our public schools, expanded school choice for all, and  the most significant education reforms in state history -- it's quite an accomplishment."  
Cirino 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 $92,150. Ohioans making $26,050 or less pay no income taxes. 

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

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. The senate’s budget provides significant tax relief by not requiring  businesses to pay taxes on the first $3 million of gross receipts in tax year 2024 or the first $6 million of gross receipts in tax year 2025. After the year 2025, those businesses with a revenue above $6 million will also see continued tax reductions.

Protecting Free Speech and Diversity of Thought from the Campus to the Classroom
The higher education reforms in the budget include Senator Cirino's landmark Senate Bill 83, designed to restore and protect free speech and intellectual diversity at Ohio's public institutions of higher learning. The bill provides a much needed course correction for campus environments that have become increasingly polarized.

“This is really about preserving and protecting the mission of our public universities,” said Senator Cirino. “Students and faculty should never be intimidated or fearful of reprisal or alienation on campus or in a classroom.”

The budget also includes Senate Bill 117, cosponsored by Cirino and Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), which  establishes the Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture, and Society as an independent unit within the Ohio State University. It also creates the Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leaderships as an academic unit within the University of Toledo.  
"The purpose of these centers is to engage students in the fundamental questions concerning justice and the rule of law by employing rigorous debate, intellectual freedom, and mutual respect," said Cirino. "Students will encounter the writings of America’s founders and the classic scholars who influenced the American system, such as Plato, Aquinas, and Locke."

One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund 

Cirino praised the billion dollars set aside 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, 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.

Cirino fought for, and obtained, the removal of a budget provision that would have prohibited investments in rental housing in Ohio’s opportunity zones. This will keep alive a number of large projects throughout his district. 

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

Historic Funding Increase for K-12 Education
The Senate’s budget plan includes historic funding and policy improvements to K-12 funding that is focused on accountability and options for parents.

The Senate school funding plan maintains the updated 2022 salary and spending criteria used for determining the base cost, and then adds an additional $1.3 billion to school funding. Total foundation funding for students in public schools under the Senate plan is a record $9.3 billion in FY24 & almost $9.6 billion FY25.
 Parents’ Education Choices Matter
Flexibility and options are key for today’s families and students. Parents should have an option.
The Senate’s budget makes Ed Choice Scholarships 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 award: $6,165 for K-8 students and $8,407 for high school students. Scholarships for students in families with 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 Senate’s 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 and much needed accountability over the department regarding education policy development and implementation that will greatly improve its operations.
Additional Funding for Critical Programs and Accountability Improvements

  • Provides an additional $25M to support pediatric behavioral health workforce development and infrastructure bringing the total allocation in the bill to $50M (ARPA).
  • Provides an additional $10M each FY for the Continuum of Care Services line for ADAMH boards in the Department of Mental Health (Restoring to As-Introduced levels). Also increases the Criminal Justice Services line in Mental Health by $9M in FY24 for one-time expenses.
  • Clarifies that websites hosting video content are subject to the parental consent requirements in the bill.
  • Modifies Ohio College Opportunity Grant award amounts contained in the sub bill to provide additional increases in FY24 and further increases the EFC in both FYs to $3,750.
  • Provides $1.25M (GRF) each FY for the Appalachian Children Coalition. Funding will be used for training, hiring, and retention of entry-level child mental and behavioral health workers in school and health provider settings.
  • Appropriates $300K (GRF) per FY for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
  • Prohibits state employees from working remotely more than eight hours a week other than as an accommodation under the ADA or other Civil Rights laws.
  • Increases the category amounts and raises the statutory cap for the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship in FY25, adding $9M (GRF) for this purpose.
  • Provides $1M over the biennium to expand eligibility for the Program for Medically Disabled Children (renamed the Program for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs in the bill) by extending the age limit by one year each year in 2023 and 2024.
  • Provides $2.3M (TANF) funds in FY24 only for the Open Doors Academy to support out-of-school programs.
  • Requires school districts and community schools to provide academic intervention services to students who score “limited” on state assessments in math, science, or English.

The budget now moves to the Ohio House, and must be balanced and signed into law by June 30th.