Ohio’s $188 billion biennial budget cuts a wide swath

Barbara Mooney

After much last-minute sweating of the details, the Ohio biennial budget, House Bill 33, is finally law. With the signature of Gov. Mike DeWine in the early morning hours of the Fourth of July, the 6,200-page operating budget for 2024-2025 projects spending $86 billion the first fiscal year, which began July 1, and $102 billion in the second year, which ends June 30, 2025.
The final bill cuts across a wide swath of Ohio policies and funding, affecting the lives of most Ohioans in one way or another, particularly in the areas of education, taxes, economic and workforce development. It addresses parental control over their children’s’ social media access.
It adds regulations to the nursing homes and school instruction. It raises the base pay for teachers from $30,000 to $35,000 a year and creates incentives for new housing and shovel-ready sites for companies. Thanks to the governor’s line-item vetoes, it limits the ability of local governments to ban flavored smoking products.
Those are just a few of the myriad issues the bill addresses. Here are other highlights of the bill:
Taxes: The bill includes tax cuts of about $3 billion. It reduces the state income tax brackets from four to two. There is no income tax for incomes below $26,050 and the tax rate for incomes of between $26,050 and $92,150 is now 2.75 percent. The rate is 3.5 percent for incomes of $100,000 and up.
For families with babies, it eliminates the sales tax for products like diapers, wipes, skin creams, car seats, cribs and strollers that are designed for children up to 36 months old.
For businesses, it reduces or eliminates the commercial activity tax for about 90 percent of the businesses that have been paying it.
The bill allocates $750 million in funding for tax credits to help finance the building of new, single-family homes or new rental properties.
Education: The bill provides $1.5 billion more in funding for public schools, increases funding for and access to school-provided meals. It raises the base pay for teachers by $5,000.
At the same time, the bill makes access to state vouchers for non-public school education virtually universal. A family of four with an income of $135,000 or less is eligible for full scholarships to non-public schools. The thresholds of eligibility for partial scholarships increase from there.
In other aspects of the bill, it shifts power from the Ohio Board of Education to the governor’s office. It requires schools that enroll girls between grades 6-12 to provide free feminine hygiene products. And it eliminates the requirement to hold back students who haven’t passed tests that reflect a third-grade reading level.
The bill also puts more funding into STEM, career and technical education. For example, it devotes $200 million to new facilities and $100 million for new equipment for technical educational facilities.
Healthcare: Among the many healthcare related provisions in the bill is an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for direct care providers, such as home healthcare providers, to a minimum of $17 an hour the first year and $18 an hour in fiscal year 2025. It also provides continuous Medicaid coverage for children ages 0-3 years old. The bill includes a number of funding provisions for children with special needs.
Representative Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Westlake, who is a ranking member of the House Finance Committee, is among the Democrats who ultimately supported the passage of H.B. 33.
In a statement July 7, Sweeney pointed out the parts of the bill that won her support.
“I supported this budget because of major bipartisan wins, especially on public education, healthcare and childcare. While this is not, and never has been, a Democratic budget, we showed that we can improve the lives of Ohioans by putting people first.”
The budget, which was approved 25-6 in the Ohio Senate and 67-30 in the House – split along party lines yet had key bipartisan support – passed out of conference committee on June 30. Gov. DeWine also put work into it with 44 line item vetoes before he signed it.

Contact this reporter at bemooney.83@gmail.com..


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