COLUMBUS—State Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) today joined his Senate colleagues in unanimously passing the state's two-year operating budget (Am. Sub. H.B. 166), legislation that invests in Ohio’s essential public services while providing significant tax relief to hard-working Ohioans and preserving key tax reforms important to Ohio’s growth.
"As conservatives, it is important that we continue to strive to strike the appropriate balance between investing in things that are important to the people of Ohio and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Wilson, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee. "Based on our current economic climate and our priorities as a legislative body, it seems to me that we have struck that balance with this particular bill. Thank you to everyone who came in to testify during the committee process, and I appreciate all of the hard work that went into this version of the operating budget."
“I’m proud of the strong bipartisan support in the Senate for this budget,” added Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). “Our members have worked hard to represent the needs and priorities of their constituents, and this budget allows us to invest in Ohioans while being fiscally responsible and taking every opportunity to return their hard-earned tax dollars.”
Major provisions of the Senate’s plan include:
Investing in Ohioans’ Health and Wellbeing
• The Senate’s budget helps families in crisis by making targeted investments in kinship, multi-system youth, and crisis care. The budget improves access for breast and cervical cancer screenings by expanding eligibility and increases funding for maternal health and pregnancy resource centers.
• It also improves care for Ohio’s low-income, elderly citizens by investing in home and community-based services. The budget increases healthcare transparency to protect Ohioans from “surprise medical billing” when out-of-network doctors are used, often unbeknownst to patients.
• The budget provides $1M over the biennium for a newly-created fund within the Attorney General’s office for the Internet Crimes Against Children task force to protect our youth and keep them safe online.
• Nutritious food is crucial to improve healthcare outcomes, and additional funding was directed to Ohio’s foodbanks in the Senate’s budget. Vital community service providers, like Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way family stability programs, Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, and the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, also received increased funding for proven programs to help Ohioans’ achieve their best potential.
• Additional financial support was provided to local governments through increases to the local government fund as well as increased funding for indigent defense. This will support the extraordinary legal costs faced in situations like the Pike County murder case, and for 30 additional local drug courts to help Ohioans seek treatment in lieu of jail time.
• Supporting the veterans who protect our freedoms, the Senate increased funding for various veterans’ organizations, including innovative programs focused on helping veterans who struggle with PTSD and other mental health concerns achieve healing and stability. The budget also removes job barriers for Ohio’s military spouses who are seeking occupational licenses to continue their employment when transferred to Ohio.
Investing in Education and Career Readiness
• The Senate’s budget invests in the physical and mental health of Ohio students by supporting $550 million in new funding for “wrap-around wellness” services for all K-12 schools. It also includes $100M in additional funding for school facility construction to continue Ohio’s commitment that all children attend school in safe buildings conducive to learning. This budget also reauthorizes funding for School Safety Training grants and other safety programs for schools and religious centers and provides supplemental dollars to school districts with growing student populations.
• The budget also continues to protect a parents’ right to choose the best educational option for their children and updates high school graduation requirements by reducing the number of tests and creating non-test alternatives for students to demonstrate they are ready for successful entry into career training and post-secondary educational opportunities.
• The Senate increased funding for Ohio’s nationally-recognized libraries, which not only provide educational and cultural learning opportunities in our communities, but also play a critical role in career readiness and training.
• The Senate’s budget focused on career and workforce success by increasing funding for higher education institutions and College Opportunity grants; providing reimbursement options for workforce-related credential programs; and expanding funding for rural healthcare workforce training.
Protecting the Health of Lake Erie and Ohio’s Natural Resources
• Continuing to protect the health and viability of Ohio’s lakes and rivers, the budget fully funds the H2Ohio program over the next two years in a comprehensive effort to deal with the challenges faced by Lake Erie and Ohio’s other vital waterways. The effort is strongly supported by both agriculture and environmental groups.
• The Senate’s budget also provides additional funding for maritime port economic development, specifically in opportunity zones across Ohio.
• The Senate protected funding for parks, nature preserves and wildlife areas around the state.
Providing Significant Tax Relief for Hard-Working Ohioans
• One of the most important ways the Senate believes the state can invest in Ohioans is by returning tax dollars to the taxpayer. The Senate plan provides tax relief for working families by removing the bottom two tax brackets and includes an across the board income tax reduction of 8% over the biennium, providing Ohioans opportunities to build their future, not build big government.
• The Senate’s budget also protects tax relief for small businesses, the backbone of Ohio’s economy. The bill restores zero income taxes on the first $250,000 earned by small businesses, with revenue over that taxed within Ohio’s new marginal rates.
• The Senate’s tax relief package represents an over $640 million tax cut for Ohioans and represents the Senate’s belief that lower taxes and fewer regulations make a significant difference in Ohio’s economy and the lives of the people who call Ohio home. Important regulatory reforms were included in the budget by establishing a one-in, two-out goal to help ensure rules or regulations created by state government have a specific purpose to protect Ohioans and do not create needless barriers to growth.
The bill now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget signed by the governor by June 30.