128th General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate have recessed until the week of April 20, 2009. Most legislative committees will not be meeting, with the exception of the House Housing and Revitalization Committee, chaired by Representative Foley, which will hold a hearing on April 7, 2009, and the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired Representative Sykes, which will hold hearings on Sub. HB 1 (Sykes) on April 14-16, 2009. Amendments for HB 1 are expected to be presented to the committee at that time. The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Cates, have scheduled supplemental hearings on Sub. HB 1 on April 14, 2009 at 9:30 AM, and April 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM.
*Governor Strickland signed into law on April 1, 2009 HB 2 (Ujvagi), the state’s biennial transportation budget. The state transportation budget totals $9.2 billion, and includes $5.8 billion for the Ohio Department of Transportation; $1.4 billion for the Ohio Department of Public Safety; and $1.9 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for highway construction and transit projects and federal stimulus funds for several state agencies in FY09. Among it many provisions, the bill includes an emergency clause that extends eligibility for health care coverage for certain laid-off workers under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), and support for a study of passenger rail service between Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati.
The governor vetoed thirteen items, including a provision that would have required local governments to reimburse utilities for any relocation costs due to federal stimulus projects.
*Former State Representative Fred Strahorn took the oath of office on March 31, 2009 to become the new state senator representing the 5th Senate District. He replaces Senator Tom Roberts, who resigned in February from the Senate to accept an appointment to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission from Governor Strickland.
Federal Budget Update: The U.S. House and Senate approved on April 2, 2009 separate budget resolutions (H.Con. Res. 85 and S. Con. Res. 13) that provide $3.5 trillion for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2009. According to most reports, the House and Senate plans support President Obama’s priorities to expand health care for the uninsured, increase funding for college loans, and address environmental and energy issues.
The budget plans were approved along party lines, and now move to a conference committee to work out the differences. The final budget resolution does not have to be signed by the President, but serves as a guideline for Congress as it develops approximately thirteen appropriations bills for FY10 to fund federal departments and agencies.
State Budgeting Matters: The April 1, 2009 issue of State Budgeting Matters by Dick Sheridan, Center for Community Solutions is entitled “FY2010-FY2011 State Budget: Paramount Considerations”.
This issue examines the state’s biennial operating budget, House Bill1 (Sykes) and questions about revenue shortfalls, the length of the recession/depression, the history of tax reform in Ohio and lessons learned from the depression, the best way to use federal stimulus funds, the role of legislative oversight, Ohio’s antiquated system of supporting health and human services, and how other states are addressing the current recession.
This report also reviews eleven recommendations for reforming Ohio’s tax system included in a 2002-2003 study released by the Center for Community Solution called “Taxing Issues, The 10 Volume Study of Ohio’s Tax Structure”, Richard G. Sheridan, David A. Ellis, Ph.D., and Richard Marountas. The authors of this study suggest, for example, that the state’s tax base is too narrow; the state needs a stable revenue source similar to property tax; the ceiling placed on property tax growth needs to be raised or eliminated; tax expenditures “violate” the principle that a tax system should be neutral; and the state and local government tax structure burdens low and middle income tax payers.
According to the State Budgeting Matters report, the proposed biennial budget in Sub. HB 1 is balanced with federal stimulus dollars, one-time revenue, and budget reductions. The revenue projections used to create the budget may be overly optimistic, because the economic indicators that were used to develop the budget are now even lower than originally predicted. Economists do not know when this recession will end, but the recovery will take several years based on information from previous recessions. There are also structural problems with Ohio’s tax system and the way Ohio provides support for health and human services through multiple, independent, and inequitable local systems that contribute to Ohio’s financial problems.
The author writes, “It is incumbent on the administration to: (1) officially revise the FY 2009 revenue estimates once again; (2) describe its solution to the FY 2009 budget problem; and (3) present the legislature with revised revenue forecasts for the upcoming biennium before the House acts on H.B. 1. Failure to do so will not make the problem go away; it will simply shift the problem to the Senate. The longer these problems are not addressed, the more limited the options to solve them will be.”
The author also recommends that the state “re-examine” the state-local revenue structure in Ohio: “If tax increases will be needed, addressing that issue now means that they can be smaller than they will have to be when the federal and non-federal, one-time revenues used to balance the upcoming budget disappear. They also give the legislature time to consider the structural problems that exist in Ohio’s tax system.”
The full report is available at http://www.communitysolutions.com/
Update from Ohio Youth Voices: Ohio Youth Voices, Michael Charney director, reports that during the weeks of March 23 and March 30 over 750 students participated in two student led conference and five school assemblies with state lawmakers sponsored by Ohio Youth Voices. The purpose of these meetings was to prepare students to participate in the ongoing debate about the proposed biennial budget included in Sub. HB1 (Sykes).
The two conferences in Cleveland and Columbus attracted 250 students from 20 schools. Students facilitated interactive workshops about the priority items of the Ohio Youth Agenda, which include changing the OGT; youth leadership to prevent violence; older students helping younger students to prevent dropouts; and a full music and arts curriculum and internships for high school students. Students who have day to day experience with these suggested changes shared their perspectives and developed a list of persuasive reasons to motivate lawmakers to include these items in the budget.
Students also prepared for their presentations before future teachers now in college based on the Youth Agenda item, “The need for knowledgeable and thoughtful teachers who connect to the culture and background of the students they teach.” The checklist for preparing for these presentations can be found at Ohioyouthvoices.org and clicking on the Ohio Youth Agenda section.
Students will give advice to these future teachers at the end of April at Cleveland State University, Hiram, University of Akron, Ohio State, Otterbein, Ashland, and Oberlin College.
On May 5th students from across the state will gather in front of the Statehouse to present to the Ohio General Assembly and representatives from Governor Strickland and Attorney General Cordray’s offices petitions with the signatures of thousands of students who support the priority items of the Ohio Youth Agenda.
After two years of focused activity Ohio Youth Voices has active and articulate student leaders across the state to present their petitions to the leaders of Ohio on May 5th and testify before the Senate Education Committee.
For more information about Ohio Youth Voices, please contact Michael Charney, Ohio Youth Voices Director, at 216-548-4059
A Review of Issues/Concerns Regarding HB1 (Sykes) the FY10-11 Budget: Members of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee chaired by Representative Sykes, are wrapping-up work on the FY10-11 state operating budget proposal included in Sub. HB 1 (Sykes). According to the latest schedule, the House Finance and Appropriations Committee will consider amendments to HB 1 the week of April 13, 2009, and then accept additional testimony. The committee is expected to vote on Sub. HB1 the week of April 20th, and the full House by the end of the month.
The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, chaired by Senator Carey, has invited state departments and agencies to present testimony on Sub. HB1 (Sykes) starting on April 14, 2009. The Senate Education Committee began hearings last week on the education components of the proposed budget with testimony presented by J. Pari Sabety, director of the Office of Budget and Management, and Tax Commissioner Rich Levin. The Senate schedule calls for a Senate committee vote on Sub. HB1 on June 2 or 3, 2009.
The following is a review of some of the components of Sub. HB1 related to education that may be amended or changed as the budget process continues. These are ideas and concerns that have been expressed to Governor Strickland, Chairman Dyer of the House Finance and Appropriations Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, and to the full House Finance Committee. Governor Strickland and his staff, legislators, and stakeholders have been working on ways to improve Sub. HB1 and address the concerns that are listed below:
*Federal Stimulus Dollars: Ohio is expected to receive over $2.6 billion in federal funds for education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The U.S. Department of Education released on April 1, 2009 guidelines for the distribution of those funds, but there is still some confusion about what is permissible under federal laws; how much flexibility states and school districts will be allowed to use the funds; what the consequences will be for not complying with the law and rules; and how “maintenance of effort requirements” and “non-supplanting requirements” will be actualized.
The confusion about the use of the stimulus dollars is compounded when the proposed budget bill, Sub. HB1 (Sykes), includes federal stimulus dollars and state dollars to support education programs such as Title 1 for students from families with low incomes, and special education programs through the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Federal stabilization funds for education will also be allocated to schools to prevent teacher layoffs and downsizing during this economic crisis.
There is also a concern about sustaining education funding in the future once the federal dollars are gone.
On March 31, 2009 J. Pari Sabety, director of the Office of Budget and Management, presented testimony to the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Cates, and addressed several questions regarding the federal stimulus funds. Direct Sabety told the committee that the federal stimulus dollars for Title I and IDEA should be separated from state funds appropriated to school districts, and school districts should comply with the federal guidelines, including a provision stating that these funds should be used to advance educational reform and enhance student achievement.
Director Sabety also said that the proposed budget includes an increase for education of $142.7 million, not counting federal resources. The administration has contacted the U.S. Department of Education, and does not need a waiver to spend the federal money included in the proposed budget as proposed.
As the budget debate continues, more information and clarification about the use of the federal stimulus dollars will be needed to fully understand how the federal funds can be used to promote reform, not affect maintenance of effort requirements, and be sustainable.
*Funding for Low Wealth Districts: Approximately 31 percent of Ohio’s student population would see a decrease in funding by the end of the biennium if Sub. HB1 is enacted, according to a report released by Representative Seth Morgan.
The interaction of some of the components of the proposed Evidence-Based Model (EBM), such as the average district salary level for teachers, decreased student enrollment (Average Daily Membership
– ADM), lowering the charge-off to 20 mills, and the Instructional Quality Index (IQ Index), might be contributing to lower state aid levels for some districts,
Some of the recommendations that have been proposed to provide more funding to low wealth school districts are:
-lower the cap on the amount of new revenue a school district could receive under the new formula, and redistribute the “captured” revenue to school districts with low wealth -phase-in the new, lower, charge-off levels -examine the proposed organizational units for schools to see if they have a negative impact on small schools and districts
*The Average Salary Level of Teachers: Some questions have been raised regarding the adequacy of the average salary levels for teachers used in the EBM and the effects of the Instructional Quality Index on teacher salaries. The average teacher salary level used in the EBM is $45,000, which is an average of school district salary averages. 14 percent is also added to the $45,000 to support the State Teachers Retirement Fund contribution. This additional factor raises the average salary level used in the EBM formula to $51,407 in FY10 and $52,402 in FY11.
The actual average teacher salary level for traditional public school teachers in Ohio is around $54,210. (Adding the 14 percent for STRS raises it to $61,500). The average teacher salary level used in the EBM includes the average salary levels of school districts and community schools. The average teacher salary level for community schools is $33,070. Including the community school data lowers the salary level for the EBM overall.
Some of the ideas being discussed to address this issue include removing the average salary level of charter schools from the calculation, and using the median of the unweighted district average salaries, which comes out to $49,925. A fringe benefit factor of 14 or 15 percent would be added, but that would not cover the full cost of benefits, which are as high as 30 percent in some school districts. According to some calculations, if the actual average salary level for teachers is used, the EBM would need over $920 million more in funding.
*The IQ Index (Instructional Quality Index): The IQ Index was designed to recognize that some school districts need additional resources to compete for high quality teachers. The IQ Index is computed using three factors: the college attainment rate of the district’s population; the district’s wealth per pupil, based on property valuation and federal adjusted gross income; and the district’s concentration of poverty. The IQ Index ranges from a minimum value of 0.9 to a maximum value of 1.65 for FY10 and FY11. When the IQ Index is applied in the formula, districts can receive between $46,266 to $84,822 in FY 2010, and from $47,162 to $86,463 in FY 2011 per teacher, depending on the district’s IQ Index.
Education advocates are questioning whether the IQ Index is actually doing what it is intended to do in the EBM, because several low-wealth schools receive no or minimal increases in state aid.
Some believe that the three components that make-up the index should not be weighted the same, while others suggest that the index should be lowered to .76, and the highest value should be 1.60.
The name of the index is also expected to change to reflect more accurately its purpose. For example, one suggestion is that the index be called the education challenge factor.
*Accountability/Compliance/Waivers: Discussions continue about the timeline for implementing the education and funding reform plan included in Sub. HB1, and when the accountability requirements for schools and school districts will go into effect.
The ODE is required to adopt new operating standards and rules for implementing the accountability requirements. However, Sub. HB1 is not clear about the level of compliance that will be required from school districts from the start. For example, will school districts have the flexibility to spend state dollars on personnel NOT identified in the EBM? AND, is the level of funding for certain positions sufficient to cover their true cost, or will the EBM become an unfunded mandate?
According to Superintendent Delisle, the ODE is currently analyzing the possible new rule requirements and other ODE and State Board of Education responsibilities outlined in Sub. HB1. Preliminary conversations suggest that if Sub. HB1 is approved as introduced, school districts will receive funding under the new EBM starting in July 2009, but will not have to demonstrate compliance until later. The 2009-2010 school year will be viewed as a year of planning for implementation in August of 2010.
Some are suggesting that Sub. HB1 should include a provision for the ODE to set in rule a phased-in schedule for the various components.
Others are suggesting that the accountability provisions be applied to districts that are not performing at high levels rather than districts that are already excellent or effective.
*Gifted Education: Funding for gifted education in the EBM is also being reviewed. The current structure for providing services to gifted students includes approximately $5 million for identification and approximately $42 million for “gifted units”, which support gifted coordinators and intervention specialists in certain school districts. There are 1110 gifted units allocated to some, but not all, school districts throughout the state. These units provide services to only 20 percent of the identified gifted student population, and local funds support another 7 percent. The number of gifted students served has been decreasing from 43 percent in 1998 to 27 percent currently.
The average gifted unit is funded at $37,000, which is below the state average teacher salary level. Approximately 300 of the gifted units are allocated to Educational Service Centers to provide gifted services to students in school districts that have too few gifted students to efficiently provide a gifted program. No state share is applied to the current gifted funds. Another $1 million is spent on the Summer Honors Institutes including the Martin Essex program.
The proposed budget for gifted education in Sub. HB1 provides school districts with $25 per ADM, but these funds are adjusted for each district by the charge-off in the new formula. As a result, gifted funding is reduced to $21 million in the proposed formula, and no funds are provided for identification or the Summer Honors programs. In addition, no funds are tied to an intervention specialist or coordinator for gifted students. Almost all of Ohio’s districts will lose gifted funding under the proposed new plan.
The new system for gifted funding would need to provide $56 per ADM rather than the $25 per ADM to provide the current level of support for identification and units, and this would still only serve 20 percent of gifted students identified.
Even though Sub. HB1 has included transitional aid as a “hold harmless” provision to ensure districts don’t lose funding during the phase-in of the new funding system, unit funding for ESCs and funds for identification are not held harmless. In fact, a number of gifted coordinators and intervention specialist positions have already been told that they will not have positions next year.
Advocates for gifted education are working with the Governor’s office and lawmakers to revamp the structure and funding in Sub. HB1 for gifted education based on the operating standards for gifted education. An evidence-based gifted education program based on Ohio’s operating standards for gifted should include the following components:
-Identification of gifted students, especially underrepresented populations, -Gifted staff, including both gifted coordinators and gifted intervention specialists based on ratios in the operating standards.
-Professional development for both gifted staff and classroom teachers.
-The Summer Honors Institutes and the Gifted Research and Demonstration projects (eliminated two biennia ago).
-A mandate to serve ALL gifted students based on the gifted operating standards.
*Student Intervention and Support: The proposed EBM does not include support for several “related service providers”, such as school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, and physical therapists. These are professionals mandated in Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities, and serve students in special education programs and students who are at-risk.
Sub. HB1 also does not include support for the school psychology intern program, which is a 40 year old program funded by the Ohio Department of Education in collaboration with the Interuniversity Council of School Psychology Training Programs (nine universities) and the Ohio School Psychologists Association (OSPA).
Related service professionals, such as school psychologists, are also not included on the various student support teams described in Sub. HB1, including the school organizational leadership team; the family and community engagement teams; academic improvement teams; and community engagement and linkage coordinators. These concerns have been presented to the House Finance Committee.
*Special Education: There were 265,000 students who received special education services last year, which is 15 percent of the K-12 student population.
The proposed formula for special education included in Sub. HB1 retains the six categories of special education weights, but revises the weights and applies them to the number of special education students in a category in a school district, rather than to a per-pupil amount. The level of funding is also applied at 90 percent. A 1:20 teacher ratio is used to determine the number of special education teachers that will be funded through the model. A special education aide is included for every two special education teachers. Funds are also provided to support home instruction reimbursement, special education and related services at county MRDD boards and institutions, and preschool special education and preschool supervisory units at county MRDD boards, educational service centers (ESC), and school districts. Additional funds are included to reimburses school districts at least 50 percent of the cost of providing services to students above $27,375 in categories two through five, and $32,850 for students in category 6.
Advocates for special education, including the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities, have raised questions about special education funding in the EBM, including concerns about the student/teacher ratios; reliance on one-time federal stimulus dollars; exclusion of support for related services; the special education weights; the elimination of funding for the parent mentor program; and support for preK special education, including the base salary of $17,000 (from 1989) for teachers in special education preschool programs.
Questions have also been raised about how the use of the federal stimulus dollars will affect “maintenance of effort requirements” of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Currently the state provides $470.5 million for special education programs, and Sub. HB1 includes a $56 million increase in FY10. Even with the increase, using federal dollars for special education reduces the state’s share of support for special education to 58 percent.
*Extended Day: Education organizations and lawmakers have raised questions about the 20-day extension to the school year proposed in Sub. HB1. Some are concerned about the research that supports this provision, and how school districts will pay for the added days.
*Career Tech/Vocational Education: Some questions have been raised about whether or not the proposed EBM provides adequate support for career-tech teachers at comprehensive high schools. Advocates for career tech programs are requesting that the ratios be changed and provide one teacher for every ten students, and some adjustments be made for the growth in enrollment at joint vocational school districts and comprehensive high schools.
*Educational Service Centers (ESCs): Several issues have been raised regarding the funding levels for Education Service Centers. The level of funding for Educational Service Centers will decrease from $52 million in FY08 (before the budget cuts in FY08) to $42.3 million in Sub. HB1 for FY10 and FY11. Some of the reductions in funds is attributed to the cost of the mandated performance audits of the 57 Educational Service Centers also included in Sub. HB1. Since Educational Service Centers provide a variety of services to school districts across the state, such as gifted and special education services, professional development, and cooperative purchasing, it is not clear how the level of services to school districts will be maintained with the level of funding provided.
Craig Burford, director of the Ohio Educational Service Center Association, has requested the restoration of the $52 million state support for ESCs, and an additional $5 million from the federal stabilization fund. Instead of a study of Educational Service Centers, advocates are proposing that ESC go through an accreditation process that will review alignment of resources and processes to standards and priorities.
*Charter Schools: Proponents for charter schools are concerned that the EBM does not provide sufficient funds for brick and mortar charter schools and electronic charter schools to operate. In FY09 state foundation funding for community schools totaled $637 million. Sub. HB1 includes $497.4 million in FY10 and $533.7 million in FY11 for community schools allocated through the new EBM formula. $1.3 million is also included for technical support and assistance, and $225,000 for sponsorship training.
Much of the reduction in funds for charter schools is for e-schools, which, through the EBM, receive fewer supports because instruction takes place in the home.
Currently there are approximately 88,000 students enrolled in 321 community schools. 28 of those schools are internet-based schools, including seven statewide e-schools, and 21 e-schools sponsored by school districts.
There are 73 community school sponsors in Ohio. Since April 2003 the ODE has had oversight over community school sponsors. However, the ODE does not have authority over sponsors operating before 2003 and Educational Service Centers and school districts that sponsor community schools. As a result, 55 percent of community schools currently operating fall outside the ODE’s authority.
In 2007-2008 eight percent of community schools were rated Effective or Excellent; 20 percent were rated Continuous Improvement; 18 percent were rated in Academic Watch; and 32 percent were rated in Academic Emergency. Since the passage of 126-HB 79, the ODE has the authority to close community schools with persistently poor academic results, except those that are dropout recovery. Two schools will close at the end of this school year, and nineteen are at risk of closing in 2010. There are also fourteen community schools listed as “unauditable” for one or more fiscal years. Six of those schools have already closed. The ODE is also monitoring several community schools that have lost enrollment, because these schools have the potential to close due to finances.
Sub. HB1 includes the following provisions related to community schools: -distributes funds to community schools through the new Evidence-Based Model; -authorizes the ODE to oversee all sponsors and annually review sponsors; -allows progressive sanctions to be applied against sponsors that do not comply with the law or sponsorship agreements; -establishes performance criteria for dropout recovery schools; -eliminates “first offer” language on school district property sales; -prohibits for-profit management services; -requires community school teachers to be highly qualified and teach in the subjects for which they are licensed; and -eliminates the two year waiting period between when community schools open and the issuance of the first school report card.
*Early Childhood Education: Sub. HB1 provides support for Early Care and Education and the Early Learning Initiative (ELI), but at a lower level (8000 slots rather than 12,000). Families at 200 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for state-supported early childhood education programs. All early childhood development programs will be united through the proposed new Center for Early Childhood Development. An Early Childhood Financing Workgroup will be created to develop a single financing structure for early care and education programs.
Advocates for early childhood care and learning, including the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children, have raised questions regarding the level of support for early childhood programs, and the change in the definitions of full-time (25 hours to 35 hours), part-time, and hourly rates of care. These changes will increase the cost of providing the services to families, and could actually reduce access for low income families to child care, if child care facilities are closed due to increased costs.
*Higher Education: The proposed budget for the Board of Regents includes $2.75 billion in FY10 in General Revenue Fund (GRF), which is a decrease of 1.4 percent from FY09 levels. The total in FY11 is $2.77 billion, which is an increase of .8 percent over FY10 levels. Non GRF appropriations are $49.6 million in FY10 and $49.4 million in FY11. The proposed budget also eliminates 20 line items previously funded.
Sub. HB1 focuses on keeping higher education affordable for Ohioans, and proposes a new funding formula that pays universities for students who complete courses and degrees rather than total student enrollment, compensates community colleges for students reaching specified benchmarks of progress, and revamps student aid. The bill establishes the Advisory Committee on Efficiency, which includes trustees, presidents, faculty, students, staff, and representatives of the business community. This commission will examine business practices and identify improvements that can be used throughout the university system.
Advocates for the Ohio College Opportunity Grants (OCOG) have raised concerns about the reduction of this program, which provides financial assistance to eligible students, and the proposed financial assistance block grant program for students in career and private colleges. They are asking for the OCOG to be restored to $61 million and the proposed block grants for financial assistance to be eliminated. Advocates for technical and community colleges have also testified for increased support through the State Share of Instruction.
*Arts Education: Arts education advocates have raised questions about the research used to develop the components for arts education in the EBM. Arts advocates are pleased that two arts disciplines (visual arts and music) are included in the proposed EBM, but have requested the following changes for Sub. HB 1 (Sykes) to strengthen arts education for all students in Ohio:
-Amend Section 3306.02 (X) to include dance and drama/theatre teachers in the definition of specialist teachers.
-Amend Section 3306.29 (C) to require the Ohio Research Based Funding Model Advisory Council to conduct a study and determine the appropriate staffing levels for dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual art teachers in Ohio’s schools in the Evidenced Based Model.
-Amend Section 3306.09 to fund services for ALL identified gifted students pursuant to Chapter 3324 of the Ohio Revised Code.
-Amend Section 3306.09 to include the arts in the student enrichment activities.
-Amend section 3301.82 (A) (4) to ensure that research about arts education is included in the work of the Center for Creativity and Innovation.
The Ohio Arts Council provides grants to artists, educators, and arts organizations that support the economic and cultural vitality of Ohio. The proposed budget for the Arts Council is approximately $9,420,413 for each fiscal year, or a total of $18,840,826 for the biennium. This figure represents a 25 percent decrease from the original FY2008/2009 appropriation of $24,976,322.
Arts advocates are requesting $25 million for the biennium, which will bring the Council’s budget back to FY09-10 levels before budget reductions were enacted.
According to arts advocates, a new report prepared by Bowling Green State University called “Ohio’s Arts – A Foundation for Innovation, Creativity, and Economic Strength” by Dr. Michael Carroll, shows that the creative industries in Ohio contribute more than $25 billion annually, support 231,000 jobs, generate $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, and generate $1.8 billion in federal tax revenue.
*State Taxes and Revenue: Several statewide organizations, including Policy Matters, the Campaign to Protect Ohio’s Future, and the Center for Community Solutions, have issued reports and studies about Ohio’s system of taxation. According to these reports the tax cuts implemented by the General Assembly over the last few years have not accomplished the goal of generating jobs and improving Ohio’s economy. In fact, the tax cuts are actually contributing to the state’s economic troubles now, because the state will lose $2.1 billion in revenue in FY10 and FY11. The business share of state and local taxes is actually lower than when it was in 1970, and the Commercial Activity Tax, which replaced the Tangible Personal Property Tax and the Corporate Franchise Tax, will bring in $1 billion less in revenue, and faces court challenges.
According to some policy and citizen groups, Sub. HB1 will not provide sufficient funds to meet the needs of Ohioans, and a more stable and adequate source of funding is needed to protect Ohio’s children, seniors, and most vulnerable citizens.
Some of the recommendations proposed for a stable revenue system include the following:
-restore the 7.5 rate of state income tax on income over $200,000 a year -roll-back other income-tax rates to 2007 levels -institute a state earned income tax credit for low and moderate income taxpayers -restore the corporate franchise tax -bolster the commercial activity tax and require businesses that don’t pay it to continue to pay a general business tax, such as the franchise tax -eliminate tax loopholes
*The following issues have also been raised regarding provisions in Sub. HB1, and it is unclear at this time how these issues will be addressed by the House Finance Committee in amendments to Sub. HB1:
-Funding levels for the transportation of students -Ratios in the EBM for students with Limited English Proficiency -Funding and support for central office administrators and personnel working in schools who are not included in the EBM -Funding for maintenance, and how it is determined -Changing the graduation requirements and general concerns about testing and assessment -Changes in the teacher preparation programs, tenure requirements, and principal evaluations
*HB120 (Batchelder) Legislative Service Commission: Establishes the Legislative Budget Committee and the Legislative Budget Office of the Legislative Service Commission.
*HB113 (Foley) School Energy Measures: Authorizes school boards for on-site renewable energy generation measures in the same manner as for energy conservation measures, allows boards to enter into installment contracts subject to specified terms of payment; provides that energy conservation installment contracts are subject to those same terms, and requires that at least twenty-five per cent of the schools in the state’s school districts have a long term supply of solar-sourced electricity.
*HB116 (Uecker) Community Theater Month: Designates April as “Community Theater Month.”
*SJR5 (Husted) Redistricting Process: Revises the redistricting process for General Assembly and Congressional districts.
*The April 2009 issue of “Links and Threads”, an electronic newsletter for education leaders and their arts partners, is available at the web site of the Ohio Arts Council:
This issue includes information about the Governor Strickland’s education reform plan; Thoughts from Ohio’s First Lady; Time to Lead by Nancy Pistone; an article about Superintendent Deborah Delisle; Arts Learning and 21st Century Skills; information about a tool kit for arts advocates from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; and information about Ohio Citizens for the Arts and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education,
Also included in this issue is a preview of a new Ohio Arts Council resource called “Focusing the Light: The Art and Practice of Planning”. This new seven-volume series from the Ohio Arts Council, designed with the arts education community in mind, can help teams turn their creative ideas into effective programs and projects with wider appeal and public value. See the OAC Web site at http://www.oac.state.oh.us/ for information on ordering the series and follow-up activities.
This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Information Coordinator for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities. The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (www.omea-ohio.org), Ohio Art Education Association (www.oaea.org), Ohio Educational Theatre Association (www.Ohioedta.org); OhioDance (www.ohiodance.org), and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (www.OAAE.net).