Week in Review - 04/26/2019

Week in Review - 04/26/2019

ARTS, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) introduced HB208, which they said would increase the penalty for assaulting a sports referee on the job or in retaliation for a prior incident, putting the offense on the same level as current laws protecting teachers, school administrators and bus drivers.

 

FY20-21 BUDGET

One element complicating deliberations on the FY20-21 budget is an obscure, 2006 state law known as the State Appropriation Limitation -- SAL for short. Passed 13 years ago by the Legislature to head off a statewide vote on the Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL) constitutional amendment supported by then-secretary of state and one-time gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, the SAL limits growth in the General Revenue Fund (GRF) basically to 3.5 percent per year with some exceptions, as explained in Gov. Mike DeWine's "Blue Book" forFY20-21. The budget laid out in HB166 (Oelslager) spends nearly up to the SAL limit, coming in $3.3 million below in FY20 and $1.2 million in FY21. However, with the Legislature's including GRF appropriations of $35 million for the Department of Public Safety in FY21 and $70 million each year for public transit in the just passed transportation budget -- HB62 (Oelslager) --proposed GRF spending is now over the limit.


The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday began its work on HB166 (Oeslager), the biennial budget, by hearing the forecasts from the Office of Budget andManagement (OBM) and the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) while questioning why the two have different estimates.


While the House continues work on its version of the biennial budget HB166 (Oelslager), Ohio's state education officials appeared before the Senate Wednesday to outline strategic investments made by the governor in his proposal. Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner and Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, delivering public testimony largely mirroring their comments before the House Finance Committee last month.


In their second hearing of the budget cycle, members of the Senate Finance Committee asked the DeWine administration about its plans for expanding early child care programs.


EDUCATION

Education officials agreed Thursday that the achievement component of the state's school district report cards needs improvement, and they disagreed about whether it serves as a valuable indicator of student progress or an unnecessarily punitive and unrealistically high bar for students. At Thursday's meeting of the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC), experts offered suggestions for improving the achievement component, including Tom Reed, executive director of achievement and leadership services at the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Central Ohio, who recommended incorporating a measure of socioeconomic status into the component.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

Ohio's unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent in March, down from 4.6 percent in February, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Departmentof Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The state added 6,300 jobs, from a revised 5,593,200 in February to 5,599,500 in March. The number of unemployed workers also dropped, from February's 265,000 to 258,000 in March. The number of unemployed workers has decreased by 1,000 in the past 12 months, and the March 2018 unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.


GENERALASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) announced the recent creation of the Ohio Legislative Children's Caucus, meant to help focus policy and funding to support proven strategies and find innovative solutions to support children. She will serve as cochair. An inaugural meeting is set for Tuesday, April 30, and Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to attend to highlight children's issues being considered in the budget.