Ohio House passes $69B two-year spending plan


Valley lawmakers satisfied with plan sent to Senate

Wire/staff report

COLUMBUS

Ohioans would see state income taxes eliminated or cut by a healthy margin depending on their income under the latest version of the state budget, approved by the House Thursday and sent to the Senate for further consideration.

The $69 billion spending plan would also increase the minimum salary for Ohio teachers from $20,000 to $30,000 annually, add $125 million to Gov. Mike DeWine’s education proposal, and significantly boost spending for foster care, with $60 million allocated over two years.

The proposal also would add an additional $21.8 million for higher education next year and $20 million in 2021.

The Mahoning Valley’s state lawmakers expressed satisfaction with the bill.

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, said, “Democrats are feeling very good about the budget. We worked in a bipartisan way to help give tax breaks to working-class families and to invest in jobs in Ohio.”

She added: “I’m happy with the investment in [kindergarten] through 12 education and to make college more affordable.”

State Rep. Don Manning of New Middletown, R-59th, said, “I think it’s a great budget. We got a $108 million net decrease in taxes. Every Ohioan will get a reduction in taxes.”

The budget completely eliminates the personal income tax for those who earn less than $22,250 and reduces personal income taxes by 6.6 percent for everyone else.

Also, $1 million is earmarked for America Makes – National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown to help it with upgrades and equipment purchases, and $150,000, $75,000 annually for two years, for Camp James A. Garfield in Ravenna, which is seeking to be designated by the federal government as an interceptor site. It’s one of three finalists.

Also included in the Ohio version of the budget is the “West Branch Rule,” which wouldn’t permit school districts to cut busing during a school year, Manning said.

State Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren, D-64th, said, “We got a pretty good tax cut for middle-class Ohioans. The budget addresses taxes, welfare and clean water.”

House Speaker Larry Householder says the budget protects vulnerable Ohioans while investing in the state’s future, and singled out the major investment in foster care.

The GOP-controlled House approved the plan 89-6 Thursday following its approval by the House Finance Committee a day earlier. At that vote, minority Democrats joined majority Republicans in a rare unanimous committee vote.

State Rep. Jack Cera of Bellaire in eastern Ohio, the top Democrat on the finance committee, said he appreciated the bill’s support for workers, small businesses, schools and people with drug addiction.

Over the objection of some business groups, the plan also would lower a business income deduction from the first $250,000 in income to the first $100,000.

Among other House GOP proposals, the two-year budget would:

• Require public universities to guarantee students the same tuition rate from their freshman through senior years.

• Direct the Education Department to create a program offering breakfast to all students at schools where seven of 10 students already are eligible for free or reduced price breakfasts.

• Fund DeWine’s proposed water-quality initiative at requested levels of $85 million over two years, with the promise of a separate bill to address long-term water quality concerns in Ohio.

• Eliminate tax credits for the motion picture industry or for making a political contribution, and direct ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to collect and remit sales taxes.

• Provide $2 million in each of the next two years to support grants to reduce infant mortality.

After the bill goes to the Senate, it likely will go to a joint House-Senate committee to iron out differences, before DeWine must sign it by the end of June.

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