Ohio Senators Propose Policy Changes in State Budget

Ohio is getting closer to have a budget which will dictate how the state pays for schools, daycares and other government services.

With nearly 10,000 pages spread across three different budget proposals, it can be difficult to keep track of what was offered where. And the amount state legislators must spend keeps changing, too.

The total budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 is now expected to exceed the original forecast by more than $ 3 billion. All that extra money should make it easier for lawmakers to find common ground before the June 30 deadline.

But here’s a list of the changes the Senate has made that both houses will need to tackle.

How to pay public schools

The biggest differences between House and Senate budgets are their plans to pay for K-12 education.

The funding formulas are different. They have different ways of calculating how much a local district should contribute. And while they both fund school vouchers directly, they spend different amounts on EdChoice scholarships.

Abortion

The Senate budget includes language that could negatively impact two of Ohio’s six surgical abortion clinics.

State law requires these clinics to have an agreement with a local hospital to admit women in an emergency, but two clinics in southwestern Ohio have variants that allow them to list local doctors who would provide treatment.

The proposed changes would force these doctors to live within 25 miles of clinics and ban them from teaching in state-funded hospitals and medical schools.

Suburban taxes

House and Senate want to leave commuters who worked from home during pandemic collect income tax refunds cities where their office buildings were located.

The big difference is whether they could claim refunds from 2020 or not.

Conscience clause

Senate budget wording would allow Ohio doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies refuse to provide or pay for medical service if it violates their moral beliefs.

State funded child care

Ohio Rating System for Child Care Centers that Accept State Dollars would change from mandatory to optional if an amendment to the Senate budget becomes law.

Supporters say the program is cumbersome and far too expensive, but opponents of the change say it will hurt Ohio’s most vulnerable children and make them less ready for kindergarten.

Internet access

The Ohio House allocated $ 190 million in its two-year budget for grants that would cover part of the cost of installing high-speed Internet in places where there are no lines.

The Senate withdrew this money, and it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will use federal coronavirus relief dollars for these projects or take money from the general revenue fund. The Senate version too prevents local governments from operating broadband networks where private sector companies operate.

Income taxes

The Ohio House and Senate want a general income tax reduction. The House proposed a 2% reduction (totaling $ 380 million) while the Senate increased it to 5% at a cost of $ 874 million.

Food vouchers

A last-minute change added to the Senate budget would change the rules for people who receive help through the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (BREAK).

Republicans say the changes would provide much-needed oversight, but food banks and other social service providers say it will keep those in need away from programs.

Judicial policy

Republican lawmakers believe Ohio Supreme Court justices should run for office with a partisan designation. And this year, they added it to the state budget.

Candidates for office are currently running in the party primaries but appear without an “R” or “D” next to their name on the general election ballot.

Medicaid contracts

Ohio spent two years overhauling the Ohio Medicaid managed care system and chose six companies to manage health insurance for 3 million Ohioans in April.

Then the Senate budget proposal was released and recommended a takeover with the Republican leadership, saying some Ohio companies that didn’t win a contract were concerned “what the process was and how it went. was unrolled “.

Fight against property tax

How many residential properties should pay in taxes when they offer reduced rents to low-income Ohioans has been debated for years.

Everyone involved believed they were close to a solution, but the Senate budget plan came out and included a provision for these buildings to pay taxes on their market value rather than a subsidized rate.

Sex education

Schools should inform parents of any sex education offered beyond state law, which requires learning about sexually transmitted diseases and emphasizing abstinence. Language in the Senate budget would also require parents to enroll their child in these classes before they are taught. The Ohio Department of Health would audit school districts annually to make sure they are following the law.

USA TODAY Network Ohio bureau chief Jackie Borchardt contributed.

Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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