Week in Review - 08/16/2019

Week in Review - 08/16/2019

FY20-21 BUDGET

A recent analysis of both Ohio's transportation budget, HB62 (Oelslager), and its operational budget, HB166 (Oelslager), by Washington, D.C. nonprofit the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that low- and middle-income earners will experience tax increases, while the highest earners will have their taxes cut. According to a release on the figures from nonprofit Policy Matters Ohio, ITEP "modeled the increases in fuel taxes and changes in the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the transportation budget, along with the operating budget's cuts in rates and brackets of the state income tax, the suspension for one year of indexing income tax brackets and personal exemptions to inflation, and new requirements for online retailers to collect the sales tax."


Ohio's Office of Budget and Management (OBM) released the revenue figures for July 2019, which saw the state collect a total of $1.7 billion in taxes. This was nearly $29.5 million or 1.8 percent over July 2018 revenues of nearly $1.7 billion. The combined auto and non-auto sales tax accounted for nearly $956.4 million of that total, with the non-auto sales tax bringing in nearly $811.2 million and the auto sales tax, $145.2 million. OBM noted that the non-auto sales tax was up $24.7 million or 3.1 percent over July2018, while the auto sales tax came in just over $11.0 million more than at this same time in 2018. This brings the combined sales taxes to nearly $35.8 million or 3.9 percent higher than in 2018.


The August OBM Monthly Financial Report indicates that the state ended FY19 (on June 30, 2019) with an unencumbered cash balance of $1.1 billion. Subtracting the $168.8 million required by Ohio Revised Code Sec.131.44 to be carried over to the next fiscal year, the state had $977.5 million in what OBM termed the "actual surplus ending balance."


EDUCATION

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently announced the grantees awarded federal funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program. The program creates or expands community learning centers that provide academic enrichment and youth development opportunities for students who attend predominantly high-poverty and low-performing schools. A total of 34 new award recipients were selected from more than 244 applications through a peer review process. Priority was given to programs that serve students in rural schools. In addition, 185 grantees received continuation funding based on prior year grant awards.


The accountability system for Drop-Out Recovery and Prevention (DRP) schools needs a thorough review, including a specific analysis of the effectiveness of the report card's measures, members of a State Board of Education (SBOE) workgroup said Monday. Lauren Monowar-Jones, director of the Legislature's Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC), joined the SBOE workgroup to discuss how best to approach reforming the assessment of these specific charter schools.


The state's lawsuit against Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder William Lager looks likely to stretch at least through the first half of 2020, after the judge presiding in the case agreed with the parties that an earlier discovery deadline was unworkable. Judge Kimberly Cocroft of Franklin County Common Pleas Court approved an order earlier this month to stretch the discovery deadline from the end of August to the end of January 2020. Under Cocroft's amended case schedule, dispositive motions would be due March 16, 2020, with a status conference to follow on May 11. No new trial date has been set at this point.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced recently the availability of the Early Learning Standards Alignment Guide which was created in response to requests from providers of early care and education in Ohio. Specifically, the document presents a crosswalk between the Ohio Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS) and Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF).


Thousands of Ohio school children are heading back to school now and in the coming days. For many of these students their day starts and ends by riding a school bus. The safety of the students riding to and from school and to school-sanctioned events is a top priority for the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine. From 2016 through 2018, 3,962 traffic crashes involved school buses in Ohio. During this time, four fatal crashes occurred, killing four and injuring 1,268. None of those killed was on a school bus.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

With another school year starting, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reminds parents that the number of providers with a star rating in the state's childcare quality rating system continues to climb. "Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) recognizes child care programs that go beyond minimum standards to promote children's learning and development," ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall explained. "Hundreds of providers throughout Ohio have stepped up to provide quality care for children." By July 1, 2020, all Ohio child care programs that receive state funding must participate in Step Up To Quality. To date, more than 3,600 publicly funded providers across the state are rated with at least one star on the five-star scale.