Week in Review - 06/28/2019

Week in Review - 06/28/2019

FY20-21 BUDGET

Final negotiations on the budget bill, HB166 (Oelslager), stayed mostly behind closed doors through the week, as lawmakers prepared to work through the final weekend of the month to meet the June 30 deadline, or even to pass a temporary budget and return mid-July to finalize details of the FY20-21 budget. House Speaker Larry Householder(R-Glenford) said Thursday he's eyeing SB4 (Kunze-Rulli) as a vehicle for temporary extensions of the operating and Bureau of Workers' Compensation budgets. Both chambers named their conferees, who include Sens. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Dave Burke (R-Marysville) and Sean O'Brien (D-Cortland) and Reps. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Jim Butler (R-Dayton) and Jack Cera).The conference committee met briefly Tuesday to hear updated revenue forecasts from the Legislative Service Commission and Office of Budget and Management, whose estimates are now very close to one another. OBM projects $24.13 billion in tax revenue for FY20, a $116 million increase from March forecasts, and $24.52 billion in FY21, a $72 million increase from March. LSC projects $24.1billion in FY20, a $434 million increase, and $24.55 billion in FY21, a $260 million increase.


 

EDUCATION

The likelihood lawmakers will use budget negotiations to settle the high school graduation debate increased with the Senate's inclusion of proposed diploma requirements from Ohio Excels, the Fordham Institute, and the Alliance for High Quality Education. The State Board of Education endorsed its own graduation plan late last year, and just recently directed Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Department of Education staff to try tohammer out a compromise between its proposal and the one now in the Senate version of HB166 (Oelslager). Both plans would scale back the testing requirements of the current high school graduation rules, and both would allow students to apply and demonstrate their knowledge with the likes of community service, work experience, academic and artistic projects, and other options. But the differences are substantial enough to have evoked strong reactions among key education stakeholders.


The existing workgroup discussing the issues facing dropout recovery and prevention (DRP) schools in Ohio may bring on legislators and other new members should the final version of HB166 (Oelslager), the biennial budget, require a study committee on the subject. John Hagan, chair of the State Board of Education's Dropout Recovery and Prevention (DRP) workgroup and a former legislator, said Monday that he would request the board "morph" the current group into the one that may be legislatively mandated.


Several senators on the Senate Education Committee expressed concernTuesday following sponsor testimony on HB154 (J. Miller-Jones) that the bill lacks adequate consequences for schools that fail to follow the school improvement plans the legislation requires. Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport)provided sponsor testimony, saying that the current structure of academic distress commissions (ADCs) under 131-HB70 (Driehaus-Brenner) has led to dysfunction and chaos in school districts like Lorain, Youngstown, and East Cleveland instead of any meaningful improvement.


Reps. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) sought to reinvigorate their school funding reform plan Wednesday with introduction of a standalone bill, HB305, with co-sponsorships from two-thirds of their House colleagues. Many fellow lawmakers stood by them during a press conference to announce the bill's debut. The plan has been revised since its March rollout with distribution formula changes meant to answer criticisms that the original plan didn't work well for high-poverty urban schools and low-wealth rural districts. A third tier of targeted assistance funding was added for the former, and a variable measure of local funding capacity instituted to address the latter, Cupp said.


House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) told reportersWednesday that the House would like to see a moratorium on new academic distress commissions put into HB166 (Oeslager), the biennial budget, and have more work on the issue done later. With a moratorium, Householder said the Senate could continue hearing HB154 (J. Miller-Jones), which would abolish the existing commissions and institute a new building-based school turnaround model to be led by local officials. The House had added HB154 language to its version of the budget, but the Senate removed it.


The Joint Education Oversight Committee considered changes to the state's school district report cards at its Thursday meeting, taking a deep dive into the "Prepared for Success" component, which is intended to measure students' preparedness for future training and professional opportunities.


GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohio's total commercial casino/racino revenue reached a record $1.86 billion in 2018, driven mostly by the success of the state's seven racinos and their video lottery terminals (VLTs), according to the American Gaming Association (AGA)."This translated into $622.6 million in tax revenue for the Buckeye State," AGA said in announcing its findings in the "State of the States 2019" report.


 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

In other legislative action, House Primary and Secondary Education Committee reported out HB164(Ginter), regarding student religious expression.