Week in Review - 08/17/2018

Week in Review - 08/17/2018

FY18-19 BUDGET

Ohio's Office of Budget and Management (OBM) in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) increased the state's projected revenue for FY19 by $531.1 million. The changes are predicated on "the performance of tax revenues in FY18, new economic data or assumptions, law changes and any other relevant new information that has come to light since the passage of HB49 [R. Smith] in June 2017," OBM explained in its "Monthly Financial Report" for July. While not all of Ohio's taxes are projected to increase this fiscal year, which started July 1, 2018, the state's three major taxes are all estimated to increase over the levels set when the two-year biennial budget was passed now a little over a year ago. Those include the personal income tax, sales tax, and Commercial Activity Tax.


Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said Wednesday that the state needs to wait to make sure it will actually see a budget surplus in this budget cycle before spending it, adding that he believes anything that is done needs to have the Legislature's input. Talking with reporters after Wednesday's nonvoting session, Obhof said that the projected surplus for this fiscal year is just that, a projected surplus.


EDUCATION

While progress has been made to improve equity since the Ohio Supreme Court found the state's school funding system unconstitutional in the 1997 DeRolph v. State case, a new analysis shows that growth has been marginal in the 20 years since the state changed the school funding model. The report, released Wednesday by the Ohio Education Policy Institute's (OEPI) Howard Fleeter, along with the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), and Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBA), shows that while state and local per pupil spending has increased for all school districts once adjusted for inflation, the increase is only $107, or 3.8 percent greater for the least wealthy quintile of school districts compared to the most wealthy quintile of school districts. The average increase was roughly 1.4 percent per year.


Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow's (ECOT) attorneys are arguing in court filings that Attorney General Mike DeWine's request for "clarification" on a judge's order approving collection efforts against school affiliates is just cover for "politically-motivated" claims against ECOT officials. The school also is asking the county judge overseeing the case not to allow destruction of paper records filling cargo containers in the parking lot of ECOT's former headquarters.


The Ohio Supreme Court declined Wednesday to take up another lawsuit from Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), one week after ruling against the defunct online charter school in its high-profile battle with the Ohio Department of Education. The latest lawsuit involved ECOT's claims that the State Board of Education violated open meetings laws during its deliberations on whether to approve clawbacks of state funding the school received -- claims that had already been rejected at the trial and appellate court levels.


Ahead of the start of school, agencies involved in early learning and child care programs are reminding parents of a state resource to research before- and after-school care providers. At http://childcaresearch.ohio.gov/, families can search providers by county, city, ZIP code, and program type of rating on Step Up to Quality, Ohio's system for evaluating child care and early learning providers.


Members of a stakeholder workgroup assembled to generate long-term recommendations for high school graduation requirements found some common ground Tuesday, generally agreeing that students, regardless of their interests or passions, should complete some sort of capstone project that demonstrates a variety of skills that each well-rounded high school graduate should have. The Superintendent's Advisory Committee for High School Graduation Requirements met Tuesday evening at the Ohio Department of Education and considered two variations on a custom graduation plan, both of which would allow students to meet certain criteria for graduation using a culminating project in addition to demonstrating foundational skills in math and English.


A new workgroup created by the State Board of Education to study changes to report cards for career-technical planning districts gathered for the first time Thursday, hearing about the implications of recent federal law changes and setting the goal of finishing recommendations by mid-October. The board created the new workgroup recently after recommending a delay in calculation of an overall grade for career-technical report cards.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

A federal panel of judges Wednesday denied the state of Ohio's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's congressional map, with the court rejecting the argument that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean lawsuits challenging partisan gerrymanders cannot be heard by federal courts.