State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the Senate’s passage of House Bill 64, the state’s biennial budget bill. The bill includes substantial new funding for education and roughly $1.75 billion in net tax relief. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 23-10.
"This budget will help build on the progress Ohio has made in recent years," Obhof said. "This takes a fiscally-responsible approach that makes substantial investments in key priorities like education, while letting Ohio's taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned money."
Senator Obhof noted the inclusion of an amendment which he sponsored to require Ohio to seek a federal Medicaid waiver for the individual mandate, two of the most onerous provisions of President Obama's health care law.
Among the major highlights in the bill:
- Tax Cuts: Reduces Ohio’s income tax rate by 6.3 percent, returning $1.26 billion to taxpayers over the next two years.
- Small Business Tax Relief: Eliminates the state tax burden on small businesses with income up to $250,000, and creates a 3 percent flat tax for small businesses above that income level. This allows small businesses, the backbone of Ohio's economy, the opportunity to invest back into job creation and infrastructure.
- Reduces Spending: Reduces projected Medicaid spending by more than $1 billion, giving the state the opportunity to focus on finding efficiencies and improved patient outcomes.
- Investing in K-12: Invests more than $935 million new dollars into students and schools over the next two years ($351.5 million in FY16 and maintains that additional funding in FY17 and adds $233 million more), holds all districts harmless to FY15 funding amounts. It provides an opportunity for predictability and sustainability for school districts, driving additional dollars to low-wealth, low-capacity districts while ensuring more districts are on the funding formula. The Senate-passed version of the budget also implements various testing reform recommendations of the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, such as reducing hours of required testing.
- Higher Ed Affordability and Support: Makes the largest state investment in SSI (state share of instruction) for higher education in eight years. The bill also gives college students and their families the opportunity for a more affordable college education by instituting a two-year freeze on tuition rate increases and requiring Ohio’s public universities and colleges to find ways to reduce student costs by five percent.
- Support for Essential Services: Restores or provides additional funding for essential services, such as pregnancy care, breast and cervical cancer screenings for women.
The budget bill will now 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 by July 1.
The Ohio Channel will begin broadcasting the Conference Committee at 10:00am on Friday, June 19, 2015. To watch the live stream, visit http://www.ohiochannel.org/.