Week in Review - 02/08/2019

Week in Review - 02/08/2019

FY18-19 BUDGET

Wage withholding for income taxes was up but estimated payments were down by more, leaving state tax receipts below estimates by about $50 million in January, the second monthly miss in a row. But tax revenues are still slightly ahead for the year, and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) suspects the drop in estimated payments might simply be an issue of timing, driven by federal tax reform. Tax receipts reached $2.22 billion in January, 2.2 percent or $50.5 million below the expected $2.71 billion. Year-to-date collections are still ahead of estimates by 0.6 percent or $78.2 million, with $13.58 billion in taxes collected in the first seven months of FY19. The personal income tax was $46.8 million below projections in January.


FY20-21 BUDGET

Gov. Mike DeWine has until March 15 to announce his proposed two-year state operating budget. The bill will begin in the Ohio House before making its way to the Senate for consideration prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. However, the transportation budget will be introduced before then because it must be passed by the General Assembly by the end of March so it can go into effect by the beginning of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 on July 1, 2019.


EDUCATION

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) recently released draft guidance on the requirement that federal Title I funding to school districts is to supplement, not supplant, local and state funding. The agency said the requirement had become "restrictive and burdensome," but the Every Student Succeeds Act now allows for more flexibility. The draft guidance is in a public comment period for gathering feedback. Comments can be sent to oese.feedback@ed.gov.


A county judge rejected East Cleveland Schools' claim that the lack of overall report card grades in past years barred creation of its Academic Distress Commission but denied the state's bid to dismiss other arguments alleging errors in calculating the most recent grade. Meanwhile, the new distress commission recently took its first major step, according to Cleveland-area media, which reported the panel named Henry Pettigrew, assistant superintendent of nearby Maple Heights Schools, as CEO, a position that will give him operational control of the district. Powers of the CEO escalate the longer a district says in academic distress, including the ability to reconstitute school buildings and suspend some union contract provisions.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is asking schools, local governments, nonprofits and others to participate in Ohio's Summer Food Service Program, which provides meals to children while school is out for the summer months. ODE says it's looking to grow participation in the program, particularly to meet higher needs in southern Ohio, in rural communities and in areas where migrant families live. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the program.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Harvard University announced Thursday a new federal grant to create a network of rural districts to address issues such as chronic absenteeism, readiness and college enrollment. ODE and Harvard's Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) secured the grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. The initiative with rural districts will complement efforts by CEPR's Proving Ground project in urban school districts, including Canton and Maple Heights, where ODE said the initiative helped to reduced absenteeism.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) will chair the Senate Finance Committee, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced this week. In addition, Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) will serve as vice chairman and Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron) will serve as Ranking Minority Member.


TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE

 Policymakers should increase the motor fuel tax to maintain and improve Ohio's transportation system, the Governor's Advisory Committee on Transportation recommended during its second and final meeting Wednesday. Most members also agreed that the motor fuel tax should be indexed to account for inflation, but said it should both be capped to avoid "major spikes" in the gas tax and subjected to periodic review by the General Assembly. Members also agreed that other revenue streams should be considered, but didn't agree on whether the state should immediately implement new taxes on electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles to help pay for the infrastructure they use. Other revenue options include allowing municipalities and townships to increase licensing and registration fees, as the General Assembly recently allowed counties to do. Other options for consideration included taxing based on vehicle miles traveled, taxing based on personal miles traveled, and adding tolls in some circumsta