Throughout a two year legislative session, no bill is more significant than the state operating budget, which this year, was House Bill 110
. Not only does HB 110 appropriate approximately $162 billion in total funds, but it also contains significant policy changes that will impact virtually every Ohioan. The Senate has worked diligently over the past few months to craft a budget that is balanced, fiscally responsible, and provides for Ohioans who need it most. I was proud to advocate for a number of key provisions that made it into the final product.
Perhaps the most important task lawmakers are charged with, in a budget, is to be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars. This means not only spending taxpayer’s money prudently, but sending it back to hardworking Ohioans whenever possible. This budget contains $1.6 billion in personal income tax cuts, the highest biennial personal income tax cut in state history. It also provides a 100% income tax cut for those earning $25,000 or less. Currently, Ohioans making up to $22,150 were already exempt from state income tax, and this cut will help an additional 125,000 Ohioans keep more of their paycheck. Additionally, the Senate reduced the highest marginal rate from 4.79% to 3.99%.
Another area that I am proud of in this budget is providing additional assistance to our veterans. House Bill 110 provides expanded care for veterans who are living with PTSD, increases funding for Ohio’s 13 veteran organizations and provides for homeless female veterans. Furthermore, veteran organizations will now be able to offer charitable gaming at their locations. It’s crucial that Ohio’s veterans know that the legislature remains committed to ensuring that their needs are met.
House Bill 110 also continues our commitment to children and at-risk youth. I was able to include a number of amendments, such as boosting eligibility and funding for the Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) program, including $50 million in Fiscal Year 2022 for reduced co-pays for families participating in PFCC. It also increases the appropriation for youth homelessness and provides an additional $10 million per fiscal year for public children services agencies of Ohio. Lastly, the budget appropriates federal funds for Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and Kinship Caregiver programs.
Another key provision of the budget pertains to broadband access, allocating $250 million for a grant program to expand access to underserved communities. The disparity of access to affordable, reliable broadband was highlighted by the pandemic and this investment will continue the legislature’s effort to close that gap.
Having worked on 13 budgets prior to this one, I can say from experience that this bill is second to none. The bottom line is that it makes historic investments, all without using any rainy day funds—an impressive feat considering the health crisis caused by COVID-19. Furthermore, it’s a balanced budget which passed with broad bipartisan support. This budget is pro-family, pro-children, pro-growth, pro-education, pro-veteran and pro-Ohio.