State leaders finished work on the overdue biennial budget this week with final changes in the conference committee on HB166 (Oelslager) Tuesday night, floor votes Wednesday and a signing with 25 vetoes from Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday morning. The compromise version of the state operating budget passed conference committee 5-1 Tuesday night, with changes that scale back income tax cuts, largely maintain the business income tax deduction, consolidate Ohio's pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) contracts, and temporarily prevent new school districts from falling under state control. The conference report passed the Senate 29-1 and the House 75-17. DeWine got the bill about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday and signed it Thursday morning, in the process excising more than two dozen provisions, many related to Medicaid and health care policy. He deleted lawmakers' mandate to have a single PBM for all of Medicaid managed care, though he said he'd pursue the policy administratively absent some of the restrictions the budget language had placed on the bidding process. He also vetoed health care transparency provisions but signed an executive order toward similar ends, and struck language giving more funding to high wealth schools and deregulating some private schools, among other deletions. Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said Thursday he was pleased with the final product and did not anticipate any veto overrides, although initiation of that process must start in the House.
The Ohio Department of EducationFriday announced the 11 teachers who are designated as the "2020 Teacher of the Year" for their respective State Board of Education district through the Teacher of the Year Program. Next, an Ohio panel of education and community stakeholders will interview these district awardees to select theOhio Teacher of the Year. The state superintendent will announce the statewide honoree in the fall. The Ohio Teacher of the Year will then represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year selection in Spring 2020, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The State Board of Education's workgroup on dropout recovery and prevention (DRP) schools Monday reviewed recommendations made by a previous study panel in 2017 regarding the alternative education system, generally agreeing that the current system for assessing and subsequently funding DRP schools doesn't sufficiently reward the work that these specialized schools do. Buddy Harriswith the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE's) Office of Approaches to Teaching and Professional Learning provided an overview of the 2017 group's recommendations.
The Joint Education Oversight Commission (JEOC) convened Wednesday to hear testimony on the progress component of the school report card, a measure that school representatives say does not reflect actual student growth in the classroom. Wednesday's meeting came just hours before the House and Senate voted on the final version of the FY20-21 budget bill, HB166 (Oelslager), which includes the elimination of the group effective Oct. 1, 2019. JEOC Chair Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) told Hannah News following the meeting that he is proud of the work they have been able to do with the group and hopes that the work can continue in some form.
Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) this week reintroduced his legislation which addresses the issue of school bullying. It had originally been projected to be HB15 -- one of the House's priority bills (see The Hannah Report,5/21/19) -- but instead it is HB310. Back in May, Speaker of the House Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) had expressed uncertainty over whether the legislation would garner bipartisan support -- a hallmark of most of the priority bills. HB310 has no co-sponsors and HB15 has yet to be introduced.
With the Legislature expected to go on summer break soon after the passage of the biennial budget bill, the House Democratic Caucus announced it will holda series of townhalls hosted by its members around the state to discuss the state budget, bipartisan priorities, and Democratic accomplishments. "The Ohio Promise Tour gives taxpayers access to their elected representatives to ask questions and get up-to-date on what's happening in Columbus," said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). "While we've delivered on a number of key priorities in recent months, there is more work to do to restore the promise of better lives and brighter futures for working families. This tour will help shape our priorities heading into the fall session and reaffirms our commitment to keeping our promise to work for you, the taxpayers."
The Ohio State Bar Association said Thursday there are serious legal and practical flaws in the new tax policy barring attorneys and lobbyists from using the state's business income tax deduction, and it will consider all avenues to fight it. The exclusion emerged in the conference committee meeting where lawmakers hammered out final differences on the budget. While both the House and Senate retreated from efforts in HB166(Oelslager) to curtail the deduction itself and the special flat rate businesses pay, they inserted the new restriction.