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A Look At The State's New Budget

Ohio Public Radio

Ohio lawmakers who failed to meet the constitutional June 30th deadline to pass a new two-year state budget worked from a temporary plan while deadlocked over tax cuts, education spending and more.

But Wednesday, the last possible day to pass a budget or another extension, lawmakers approved a 69 billion dollar plan to send to Governor Mike DeWine. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

The House version of the budget, which had a lot of support from Democrats when it passed in May, would have scrapped tax breaks given to many small business owners that earned more than $100,000 a year. But the Senate liked the current system which allows those businesses to take up to $250,000 tax free. 


In the end, the budget kept that tax break in place for everyone except lawyers and lobbyists.  Republican Senator Matt Huffman, an attorney, doesn’t think it’s constitutional to exempt those two professions. 


“Whoever ginned this up and thought it was a good idea just doesn’t like lawyers and lobbyists. Well, that’s a basis but under law, it’s not a rational basis so it’s going to get held unconstitutional. I think. What do I know…I’m just a lawyer, right? But who are these lawyers that we hold in contempt that we are going to do something like this to them?”


The eligible business owners pay a 3% tax rate once they hit $250,000. And though they get a better tax deal, all working Ohioans will get a 4% break on their current income tax rate in this budget, with the lowest earners paying no taxes at all. But that’s a lower tax cut than was in either the House or Senate budgets. 


The new budget restores $125 million for wrap around services that the House targeted to low income students, and $120 million for children services, to help those impacted by Ohio’s opioid crisis. There’s also more money for mental health services in schools and more treatment for addicts. Governor Mike DeWine has been pushing for those changes.


And the budget gives the state more power to control drug benefits for low income Ohioans who rely on Medicaid. For instance, the state will deal with one pharmacy benefit manager, as was in the House budget. Senators are concerned but agreed to the change.


Some of the heated debates over changes involves education. One sets new standards for high school graduation. Another puts a moratorium on the state takeover of schools that are in academic distress until 2020 to offer time to come up with a better solution for failing schools. But Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes, who ended up voting for the budget, says her members wanted lawmakers to scrap it entirely for the three school districts currently under the state’s control.


“That was a major failure of this administration as well as the majority to fix that issue. Obviously, the communities in Lorain, and Youngstown and East Cleveland really were hoping that the legislature would get to work for them. Unfortunately, that did not happen so they will remain in academic distress.”


Fourteen Democrats were among the 17 representatives who voted against the budget. Sykes says Democrats also don’t like the provision that gives $7.5 million to crisis pregnancy centers that steer women away from the option of abortion. She says the budget that was passed overwhelmingly by the House in June was much better. House Speaker Larry Householder also liked that version of the budget. but says this spending plan will be good for Ohio.


“When you look at this as a total program, this entire two year state budget that we just passed, we do so much for communities, to rebuild communities and help rebuild our families here in Ohio and we know that that is actually truly the heart of Ohio….our families. It’s what makes Ohio great.”


Three conservative Republicans voted against the budget in the House. But the Senate was pretty happy with the finished budget bill. When it came to key sticking points, Republican Senate President Larry Obhof got much of what he wanted from the negotiations with Householder.


“We’re all focused on the same things, whether it is the House, the Senate or the Governor’s office. We’re focused on making Ohio as strong as it can be and that means providing the key services that the people expect and need, making sure that we are protecting and preserving Lake Erie and the waterways and our environment but also providing tax relief to the hard-working men and women of Ohio.”


Senators voted unanimously for their version last month, and in the end, only one Democrat voted against this final compromise.



The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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