After his decisive November election victory, Gov. Mike DeWine gave his State of the State address in the House chamber with a preview of his executive budget to be introduced.
The speech, given to a joint session of the House and Senate, touched on several proposals regarding K-12 and higher education, workforce development, water quality, and job creation infrastructure.
Some of the more notable provisions include:
$2,500 per child state tax deduction
New Cabinet-level agency called the Department of Children and Youth
$195,000,000 allocated for school resource officers
Expansion of EdChoice to 400% (or below) of federal poverty level
$300 million one-time funding for capital improvements and equipment for career tech education
Top 5% of high school graduating classes eligible for a $5,000 college scholarship to attend an Ohio college or university
$2.5 billion to prepare infrastructure of large economic development sites throughout Ohio, so that every citizen is within commuting distance of a site
$150 million to create new Innovation Hubs throughout the state
Task force to study issues regarding quality care in nursing homes
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) described himself as “delighted” with the Governor’s proposals. A long time proponent of school choice measures, President Huffman expressed his support for the Governor’s proposal to increase the use of income-based EdChoice vouchers to those families with incomes of 400% of the federal poverty level and below. With such an expansion, a significant majority of families in Ohio would be eligible for vouchers to use at a participating private school. President Huffman did note an intention to address income taxes with further reforms, which will likely include a reduction in overall rates, a reduction in the number of brackets, or both.
As with many State of the State addresses, there were several items that legislators on both sides of the aisle applauded as worthy investments. Democrats, deep in the minority in both houses of the General Assembly, supported sales tax breaks on items used by parents and an income tax deduction of $2,500 per child. Democrats also voiced support for increased investments in law enforcement training for mental health and use of force measures. Other proposals, such as the EdChoice expansion, can expect to see opposition from the minority.
Moving forward, the House Finance Committee, chaired by Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), will receive the Governor’s executive budget and will hold hearings to obtain more details on the provisions, as will the committee’s subcommittees. After the House passes its version of the budget, the Senate will engage in a similar process before the budget bill is, in all likelihood, referred to a conference committee. The budget is required to be passed and signed into law by June 30th; a continuing resolution would be required to keep government operating should a budget not be signed by that date.
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