Tax collections beat estimates by $65.6 million in May, putting the state about 3 percent ahead of projections for the month and the fiscal year to-date, according to preliminary figures from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Sales taxes provided the biggest boost in May, netting $944.4 million versus $897.5 million expected, a 5.2 percent increase. Non-auto sales taxes were the bulk of that overperformance, coming in 5 percent or $37.6 million ahead. Auto sales taxes brought in 6.8 percent or $9.3 million more than expected.
Senate Republicans unveiled their budget revisions Tuesday, proposing to largely restore a tax deduction for small businesses and cut incomes taxes overall while putting more money toward water quality, local governments, libraries, and children in crisis. House Republicans proposed to shrink the threshold for the pass-through entity income tax deduction from $250,000 to $100,000 and require those businesses to pay standard income tax rates on income above the threshold, repealing a special 3 percent flat rate. The substitute version of HB166 (Oelslager) accepted in Senate Finance Committee restores the $250,000 threshold and delays repeal of the 3 percent rate to the second year of the biennium.
Senate Republicans also sent more money to capped districts and the EdChoice program in changes to the state budget bill unveiled Tuesday, while eyeing further action on testing, school takeovers, report cards, and graduation in a second round of revisions yet to come. The Senate Finance Committee's revisions provide nearly $40 million over the biennium to help school districts that experienced enrollment growth from 2016 to 2019. The new version also increases the appropriation for the income-based EdChoice expansion program by $50 million to support the addition of several grades.
The Senate will introduce its final budget changes in an omnibus amendment in the middle of next week, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said Wednesday. The two sat down with reporters Wednesday for about an hour of questions about the recently revised HB166 (Oelslager), as well as a few on the proposed energy policy overhaul in HB6 (Callender). Obhof said the Senate substitute budget bill and its tax policy changes are structurally balanced and sound and said, while he does maintain some worry about an eventual recession, national economic indicators "have been pretty good for the last two years."
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) said Wednesday he's still skeptical about the benefits of the state's deduction for pass-through business income, which he tried to trim but the Senate largely would restore in its latest version of the budget bill. Householder also said redirection of money the House dedicated to wraparound services to give money to capped districts is "a sort of rob from the poor and give to the rich type of thing."
Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) this week introduced legislation to require Ohio schools to name a valedictorian and salutatorian in each graduation class. In a statement announcing the planned legislation, Antani cited recent announcements from school officials in Mason, Tippecanoe, and Springboro that they planned to cease naming valedictorians or salutatorians. Local boards of education would have discretion on determining how to select students to be named valedictorian and salutatorian.
State Board of Education President Laura Kohler said Monday she's discussed having the attorney general's office represent the board independently of the Ohio Department of Education's counsel in the narrow set of circumstances where the board's and the agency's interests diverge. Kohler said at Monday's meeting of the board's Executive Committee she reached out to the AG's office after hearing interest in having separate counsel from board members John Hagan and Nick Owens.
Standards create a common language and a common skillset. That was the primary message of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and a supporting group of three educators who testified to the value of social and emotional learning (SEL) standards before the State Board of Education (SBOE) Monday. The board voted Tuesday to adopt the SEL standards amid concerns from some members about their intent, their role in th