Week in Review - 03/22/2019

Week in Review - 03/22/2019

FY20-21 BUDGET

Gov. Mike DeWine revealed the entirety of his 2020-21 executive budget on Friday, announcing a biennial spending plan that he said raises no new taxes and bases spending increases on anticipated revenue growth over the next two years. The biennial budget would increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) spending by $1.18billion for FY20 and $1.62 billion in FY21. It calls for state-only GRF spending of nearly $24.0 billion in FY20 and $24.8 billion in FY21, while all funds spending will be $74.295 billion in FY20 and $76.01 billion in FY21.Another calculation for GRF expenditures is based upon state and federal Medicaid spending, which for FY20 totals $33.7 billion and $35.3 billion inFY21. "For too long we tinkered at the margins," DeWine said. "Now is the time to tackle our unfinished business." DeWine was joined by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks in making the announcement. Husted said that as a former lawmaker, the budget hits the right notes because it is balanced and doesn'traise taxes.


A new fund totaling $250M in FY20 and $300M in FY21 to support wraparound services, mental health counseling, and other needs of at-risk students in Ohio schools represents the bulk of new K-12 education spending in Gov. Mike DeWine's first executive budget proposal. DeWine said Friday the funding will help ensure struggling children are able to learn, and allow schools to redirect core funding they've dedicated to those purposes back to the classroom. School districts will be encouraged to partner with nonprofits, educational service centers, county mental health, addiction and job and family services agencies, and others to provide the services. Schools won't get additional general aid but will receive at least what they did the year prior, DeWine said.


Also in the proposed budget, charter schools that outperform nearby district schools on state tests and enroll a majority of students from low-income families could share in a new funding pool. The executive budget includes $30 million in each fiscal year to support per-pupil payments for charters earning the designation "school of quality." According to DeWine's office, getting that designation requires meeting certain criteria such as scoring better than the local district on the state report card performance index two years in a row.


On Thursday, Superintendent Paolo DeMaria presented the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE) budget proposal to the House Finance Committee, noting that all but a tiny sliver of the billions of dollars directed to K-12education goes to local schools. Also during Thursday's meeting, Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), vice chairman of the committee, shared he's heard about an inconsistent ability to claim the small business income deduction in school districts that levy income taxes. Scherer said it relates to whether districts impose an all-income tax, or an earned income tax. He said after the hearing he's interested in creating consistency and speculated the problem might have arisen amid the evolution of the business deduction, which was modified and expanded over a few budget cycles.


EDUCATION

After shepherding a broad school deregulation measure through the previous General Assembly, Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) is returning in the new term with a follow up bill focused specifically on career-technical education. Presenting SB89 to the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, Huffman said the legislation was drafted in the same way as his previous bill, 132-SB216 -- by convening superintendents and asking for their suggestions. Among the nearly two dozen proposed changes to law are the following:


- Prohibiting data reporting changes within 30 days of the end of a reporting period and requiring the state to pick a pilot career center to test new reporting requirements.

- Barring the state from challenging or overruling collective funding agreements between schools that share students, such as one between a traditional district and a career center.

- Eliminating WebXam requirements for career-technical education programs that also required passage of a credentialing exam.

- Giving joint vocational school districts other options to make up for missed hours as a result of calamity days declared by students' home districts.


Dissatisfied with the operation of academic distress commissions (ADCs) in the state and under the threat of even more being formed, a number of legislatorshave introduced bills that would alternately place a moratorium on theircreation or abolish them. Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) testified on their HB127 in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee to set a moratorium on ADCs, and Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) said they're introducing a bill to abolish the three commissions now operating in Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland.