COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohioans would see state income taxes eliminated or cut by a healthy margin depending on their income under the latest version of the state budget, approved by the House Thursday and sent to the Senate for further consideration.
The $69 billion spending plan would also increase the minimum salary for Ohio teachers from $20,000 to $30,000 annually, add $125 million to Gov. Mike DeWine's education proposal, and significantly boost spending for foster care, with $60 million allocated over two years.
The proposal also would add an additional $21.8 million for higher education next year and $20 million in 2021.
House Speaker Larry Householder says the budget protects vulnerable Ohioans while investing in the state's future, and singled out the major investment in foster care.
"This budget takes an important additional step by helping those impacted by the addiction crisis, in particular children," said Householder, a Republican from Perry County in southeastern Ohio.
The GOP-controlled House approved the plan 89-6 Thursday following its approval by the House Finance Committee a day earlier. At that vote, minority Democrats joined majority Republicans in a rare unanimous committee vote.
"This will be the first budget that I will vote for as a member of the minority party, and I do so proudly because of the work that's been done by members of both sides of the aisle," Rep. Jack Cera, of Bellaire in eastern Ohio, said Wednesday.
Cera, the top Democrat on the finance committee, said he appreciated the bill's support for workers, small businesses, schools and people with drug addiction.
The House plan would eliminate personal income taxes for those earning less than $22,500 and enact a 6.6% cut for everyone else. Over the objection of some business groups, the plan also would lower a business income deduction from the first $250,000 in income to the first $100,000.
Among other House GOP proposals, the two-year budget would:
- Require public universities to guarantee students the same tuition rate from their freshman through senior years.
- Direct the Education Department to create a program offering breakfast to all students at schools where seven of 10 students already are eligible for free or reduced price breakfasts.
- Fund DeWine's proposed water quality initiative at requested levels of $85 million over two years, with the promise of a separate bill to address long-term water quality concerns in Ohio.
- Eliminate tax credits for the motion picture industry or for making a political contribution, and direct ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to collect and remit sales taxes.
- Provide $2 million in each of the next two years to support grants to reduce infant mortality.
The bill goes next to the Senate, and likely to a joint House-Senate committee to iron out differences, before DeWine must sign it by the end of June.