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Debate over state budget continues as deadline nears; both House and Senate want income tax cuts

Ohio House passes 'heartbeat bill' that would ban most abortions after six weeks
Posted at 7:36 AM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 07:36:08-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio House and Senate will be back in session Monday after GOP leaders were working over the weekend on the state budget, which is due this week.

Lawmakers have not yet reached an agreement for the fiscal years of 2022 and 2023.

While the budget determines how the state pays for childcare and other government services. Ohio’s senators are also pushing for policy changes from food stamps to broadband access and more, which could affect Ohioans dramatically.

Right now, there are several issues on the table as the Ohio House and Senate look to agree on thousands of pages of budget proposals.

When it comes to income taxes, both the Ohio House and Senate want cuts. The Ohio House by 2% and the Senate by 5%.

“What's the most important thing we can do? is if we don't need it, give it back in tax cuts,” said Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls).

“The problem with that is that for the average person making the median income in Ohio, that only gives you twenty-two bucks a year,” said State Rep. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park). “So what it gives back to Ohioans versus what it cuts out of important programs that we need. Doesn't sound like it's worth it to me.”

Proposed changes in the Ohio Senate’s budget would put more restrictions on who is eligible for SNAP benefits programs, commonly known as food stamps.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank says those changes would affect 100,000 Ohioans.

Supporters say it’s needed to cut down on food stamps and fraud and abuse.

As we previously reported, the House has a budget to put $190 million in grants for broadband internet where no lines exist. The senate’s plan took that money out, leaving lawmakers to later decide whether or not to use deferral coronavirus dollars to general revenue.

The Senate version also prevents local governments from operating broadband networks where private sector companies operate, which cities like fair lawn are fighting to keep.

When it comes to funding for public schools, the house and senate each have a different plan for deciding how much a district should contribute. Both plans directly fund the school vouchers but would spend different amounts on the EdChoice scholarships.

“The taxpayers, many of whom don't have children at schools, but many who do, they want to make sure that they know what the cost is and that that cost isn't going to be changing from year to year in a significant way,” said Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima).

And lastly, the House budget does not recommend that a higher percent of the state’s general revenue fund be used for public libraries, which would reduce funding by about $22 million. However, the Senate’s budget plan would restore that funding.

“So this is the only area in which I agree with the Senate's version of the budget. Library funding should be at that higher level,” said Smith.

The Ohio House and Senate have until Wednesday to send their budget proposal to Gov. Mike DeWine for approval. If it does not make the deadline or DeWine vetoes any items, they will have to pass an interim budget and continue working until they reach an agreement, which has happened three times in the past 30 years, most recently in 2019.

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