The Ohio Senate today approved House Bill 59, the state’s biennium budget proposal, which includes at its cornerstone a $1.4 billion tax cut for Ohio’s small businesses and a $717 million increase in state education funding, the largest legislative investment in education in more than 10 years. Announced by Bill Coley, the nearly $62 billion bill acts as the state operating budget for the two-year period beginning on July 1, 2013.

“Make no mistake, we have made immense progress in recent years in rebuilding our state’s economy and creating opportunity for all Ohioans,” said Coley. “This budget adds to that momentum by offering tax relief to our job creators and investing in our future by beefing up education funding.”

Small businesses employ approximately half of Ohio’s private-sector workforce and make up nearly 98 percent of all businesses in the state. In the past two and a half years, Ohio has created more than 115,000 jobs and gone from the nation’s 48th in job creation to being the number one job creator in the Midwest. The Senate’s $1.4 billion tax cut aims to continue Ohio’s economic progress and stimulate the state’s economy by encouraging increased investment and payroll expansion by these job creators.

The budget proposal also now includes the Senate’s plan to improve education funding in Ohio, “Supporting Achievement Everywhere.” The initiative seeks to adequately care for the educational needs of all Ohio children by distributing resources among more districts and increasing overall funding.

The Senate’s education plan also identifies and targets specific categories for additional funding to ensure that the money is not just spent, but invested. These categories include gifted education, career-tech training, and the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Included in the $717 million education funding increase is a $30 million investment in early childhood education and $100 million for the “Straight A Fund,” which rewards schools for measures that promote innovation and efficiency.

Among the Senate changes, Senator Coley joined with Senator Bob Peterson (R–Sabina) to sponsor an amendment that will require the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to establish new criteria that a business must meet in order to become self-insured. Current standards only focus on the number of employees with no regard for the company’s financial standing.

“It is imperative for the safety of all Ohioans that there be a fair threshold for corporate self-insurance through the BWC system,” said Coley. “Through this provision, we are modernizing Ohio statute to provide greater flexibility and potentially save businesses tens of thousands of dollars a year.”

Coley also sponsored an amendment to the budget proposal that will allow Ohio casinos to install facial recognition cameras in order to cut down on money laundering. The amendment will position Ohio as a national leader in using this technology to assist law enforcement in cracking down on this organized crime.

The bill will now be returned to the Ohio House of Representatives where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires that the budget be balanced and, by law, the bill must be signed by the Governor on or before July 1st.


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