The House Finance Committee adopted changes to the state budget bill Thursday that would shrink Ohio's pass-through business tax cut to finance income tax cuts in the bottom brackets, add $125 million to wraparound services funding to drive more resources to address poor rural districts, establish a single pharmacy benefit manager contract for Medicaid, and increase Medicaid provider rates. Another round of changes is expected next week before House passage. The substitute version of HB166 (Oelslager) offers a net tax cut of $100 million, according to House Republicans by eliminating income tax liability for anyone earning less than $22,500 and cutting taxes by 4.7 percent for those earning from $22,500 to $88,800. The income tax deduction threshold for small business income of pass-through entities such as LLCs will be cut from $250,000 to $100,000. In addition, the speaker said the House intends in next week's omnibus amendment to also repeal a tax break that allows those pass-through businesses to pay a flat 3 percent tax rate on earnings over $250,000, rather than the typical income tax rate for earnings of that level of just less than 5 percent. Also the substitute bill eliminates several other tax expenditures.
Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) Monday said he's not concerned about the timeline of the House's deliberation on the budget bill, HB166 (Oelslager),since his chamber has already launched hearings ahead of the House's amendments and floor vote.
The House Primary and Secondary Education Committee voted Tuesday to approve a measure repealing the controversial state takeover law for school districts with persistently low grades. The measure to disband academic distress commissions now in control of East Cleveland, Lorain, and Youngstown schools, HB154 (Jones-J. Miller), had not been initially scheduled for a vote Tuesday. However, Chairman Lou Blessing(R-Cincinnati) announced after testimony ended that he was using the chairman's prerogative and that the committee would be voting the bill out during that hearing. The bill went on to pass the full House 83-12 on Wednesday with the speaker saying it could end up in the budget bill.
A group of Ohio school districts filed an appeal Friday after a Franklin County judge rejected their request to intervene in the state's lawsuit seeking recovery of state funds from Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder William Lager. The school districts had claimed the state would not adequately represent their interests because of the political history between Lager and Gov. Mike DeWine, who was attorney general when the lawsuit was filed. However, Judge Kimberly Cocroft noted in her ruling that the state had recently sought to amend its complaint against Lager and other defendants to incorporate parties and claims identified by the school districts in their proposed complaint.
The Ohio Department of Education will accept applications for the next several weeks for districts and charter schools that want to participate in a pilot project for changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) that will fully take effect in the 2020-2021 academic year. Lawmakers revised OTES rules in education deregulation measure 132-SB216 (Huffman), guided by recommendations of the Educator Standards Board.
The departments of education and job and family services are looking for participants for a stakeholder committee under the Preschool Development Grant recently awarded to Ohio. The committee will focus on engaging families and communities, increasing access to high quality early care and education programming, and preparing professionals. Those interested should complete the online application at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KKT7ZBG.The first meeting is set for Monday, May 13.