COLUMBUS– Senator John Eklund (R–Munson Township) today announced the passage of House Bill 59, the state’s two-year operating budget. The bill contains as its cornerstones one of the largest single-year tax cuts in Ohio’s history as well as the largest legislative investment in public education in more than 10 years.

“This bill controls spending and directs our resources where they will do the most good for the most people,” said Eklund. “It is a budget laser-focused on economic growth, workforce development and quality education.”

The bill authorizes $2.7 billion in tax cuts, which includes a 10 percent income tax cut over the next three years. The bill also delivers much-needed tax relief for Ohio’s small businesses through a 50 percent cut on the first $250,000 of net business income. Small businesses comprise 98 percent of the state’s employers and employ approximately 47 percent of all Ohioans.

In addition to tax relief that is vital in keeping our economy healthy and growing, the bill also modernizes and streamlines the state’s outdated and complicated tax code to promote job growth. The bill eliminates many exemptions, credits and loopholes, and shifts the state away from its current reliance on income taxes toward a structure that relies more on consumption taxes.

The proposal, which will become law with the Governor’s signature, also contains a $717 million increase in spending on primary and secondary education, the largest legislative investment in public schools in more than a decade. The bill also includes $250 million for the newly created “Straight-A Fund,” which provides grants to promote innovation in our schools and efficiency in district operations and more than $78 million to support important early childhood education programs. 

The higher education plan instituted by House Bill 59 is a model for the nation that focuses on graduation and degree completion, not simply student enrollment. The plan also serves Ohio’s rising student population by establishing a 2% cap on tuition increases at all of Ohio’s public universities. Over the past 5 years, Ohio has had the second lowest tuition increases for public universities.

Additional Provisions Include:

  • Local Governments: Distributes an estimated $27.6 billion in state aid to local governments and school districts over the next two years. 85% of dollars collected by the state are passed along to local schools, governments, and community programs.
  • Reforming Workers Compensation: Reduces BWC payments by 2% for private employers and 4% for public employers as responsible management has created stable fund balances. The bureau will also be empowered to reform its payment system to save Ohio employers $900 million.
  • Investing in Our Workforce: Provides $1 million to train workers in the bioscience manufacturing industry by partnering with community colleges. An additional $2 million will be appropriated to create training programs that will prepare Ohio workers for growing jobs in the oil & natural gas industry.

Supporting Wellness & Safety:

  • Drug & Alcohol Treatment: Invests $100 million in drug and alcohol treatment, and mental health services including a $5 million pilot project to deal with convicts’ drug addictions after release from prison in an effort to slow recidivism rates and drug use simultaneously.
  • Developmentally Disabled: Provides $5.4 million for home healthcare services for developmentally disabled Ohioans.

Other Important Programs:

  • TourismOhio: Increases funding by 14%, making $8 million available each year to support and grow the state’s tourism industry.
  • Hispanic & Latino Affairs: Invests an additional 19% in fiscal year 2015 to help serve Ohio’s fastest-growing demographic population.
  • Human Trafficking: Transfers more than $500,000 to the Highway Patrol for equipment to scan commercial trucks to better detect trafficking victims.
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