Ohio governor signs two-year state budget
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state’s two-year budget on Thursday, his first since taking office in January.
The budget bill, approved by lawmakers Wednesday more than two weeks after the fiscal year had started, keeps much of the increased spending on education, public-health and water-quality programs that DeWine had originally proposed in March. The plan passed the House 75-17 and the Senate 29-1.
“Today I signed the state’s operating budget that invests in Ohio’s kids, water quality, workforce development, recovery, and education, and provides significant tax relief for taxpayers and regulatory relief for businesses,” DeWine said in a statement.
"Our focus has been rebuilding families and communities, and this budget plan is a major step forward toward those goals,” said House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford. “With this plan, we are helping families keep more of what they earn, supporting the schools their kids attend and investing in programs that make a real difference in their communities.”
Democrats said the plan failed to address school funding and doesn’t do enough to make up for more than a decade of tax cuts for wealthier Ohioans.
“Though a number of our commonsense Democratic priorities remained in the bill, the fact remains that this compromise bill does not go far enough to make up for a decade of Republican cuts and lackluster job growth — and that is reflected in today’s split vote,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron.
DeWine is a Republican and the GOP has substantial majorities in each house.
The two-year spending plan calls for tax cuts worth around $680 million that include the elimination of taxes on the first $21,500 of income and a flat 4% income tax cut for everyone else
Funding for Ohio’s schools would increase by $381.8 million for the 2019-20 school year, a 4.1% increase. There is a 2% increase slated for the 2020-21 school year. The bill also provides $20 million for districts to purchase school buses.
The plan also includes $550 million for new “wrap-around” support services — after-school programs, tutoring, counseling and other support services for at-risk, public school students across the state
It sets aside $172 million for the first two years of the new H2Ohio program to fund efforts to tackle Lake Erie’s harmful algal problem and other water quality issues across the state.
DeWine signed the budget Thursday morning and also issued 25 line-item vetoes, most of which are health care related.
Among the vetoed items was one that would have expanded the state’s 5.75% sales tax to “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft.
“After being unable to agree on language, both chambers agreed that this provision was to be removed in conference committee; however, the amendment that was accepted did not achieve that result,” DeWine stated in his explanation for the veto.
The state had been operating on a temporary budget after lawmakers, for the first time since 2009, missed the June 30 deadline for passing a budget.
Through the end of the past fiscal year, the state collected $651 million, or 2.9%, more than expected. Last month, DeWine’s budget director estimated that, when the revenue figures are coupled with lower-than-projected spending, the state would end the fiscal year with a surplus of more than $1 billion.
The state has $13.5 billion in outstanding debt of which $8.6 billion is GO debt as of December 31, 2018. The state’s has a rainy day fund of $2.7 billion as of fiscal 2018 and raised the statutory target to 8.5% from 5% of total general revenue fund revenues.