by J.D. Davidson
Ohio House Republicans spent late Wednesday afternoon trumpeting passage of their $163 billion, two-year state budget proposal, which includes a new school funding plan and a 2% across-the-board income tax reduction.
Others, however, are calling it a missed opportunity.
Ohio Democrats, along with the conservative think tank The Buckeye Institute, have issues with what money was spent and how it was spent.
Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said the budget goes away from budget principles and fails to provide enough tax relief.
“Ohio’s House of Representatives’ budget increases access to broadband and expands our successful Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison program – both of which are sensible public policies that The Buckeye Institute strongly supports – but this budget flat out fails to adhere to sound budgeting principles and offers Ohioans far too little in the way of tax relief given the state’s robust economy,” Alt said.
Republicans said the 2% income tax cut would cost the state $380 million. Projected state tax revenue beat revised estimates in December despite ongoing COVID-19 business restrictions and falling nearly $1.1 billion below budget estimates at the end of the last fiscal year in June.
Alt applauded the school funding overhaul but called on the state to do more for parental educational options.
“The school funding overhaul included in this House-passed budget achieves a laudable increase in transparency and contains the seeds of a much better model, but it unfortunately doubles down on funding the broken system,” Alt said. “What Ohio’s families actually need are education savings accounts – an innovative and commonsense policy solution that would help parents afford desperately needed resources and offer them the flexibility necessary to improve their children’s education outcomes.”
Democrats, who largely opposed the bill, said the budget missed opportunities to invest in Ohioans who continue to struggle during the health crisis.
“This budget fails to make the investments we need to meet the challenges before us,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said. “We warned from the start the danger in this budget is going too small to meet the needs of working people, families and the communities they live in. This budget is what we feared. It lacks vision and urgency needed to expand opportunity, grow jobs and ensure a recovery that benefits all Ohioans.”
House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, however, called the budget good, balanced and reasonable.
“The budget passed [Wednesday] by the Ohio House of Representatives is a balanced and responsible plan that invests in our schools, our economy and important services for Ohio’s seniors and our most vulnerable citizens, while protecting tax dollars and helping Ohioans keep more of what they earn,” Cupp said.
The budget still must be passed in the Senate and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine by July 1.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.