Governor John Kasich signed into law on June 30, 2013 Am. Sub. HB59 (Amstutz), the $61.9 billion state budget for FY14 & 15. HB59 passed the Ohio House and Senate mainly along party lines on June 27, 2013, with a vote of 21 to 11 in the Senate and a vote of 51 to 43 in the House. All Democrats and eight Republicans voted against the bill.
The new state budget does not include Governor Kasich’s proposed sales tax increases, an expansion of Medicaid, and increases in the severance tax on oil and gas drilling. But, Republicans did make sweeping changes to Ohio’s tax system, including a phased-in 10 percent cut in the income tax; a cut in taxes for small businesses; elimination of the 10 and 2.5 percent property tax rollbacks on replacement and new levies; and means-testing the homestead property tax exemption.
In addition to appropriations for the Ohio Department of Education and other state departments and agencies, HB59 also includes over a hundred changes in education policies, including several that were strongly opposed by various education stakeholder groups, such as the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Ohio Education Association, and the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding.
Some of these controversial policies include eliminating property tax rollbacks on certain levies in the future and changing the criteria for the Homestead exemption; expanding the EdChoice voucher program; changing the composition of joint vocational school district boards of education; and including state funding for transportation and career technical education inside the foundation formula and subject to the gain cap.
Also, no progress was made in convincing lawmakers that they should support a rigorous process to identify the cost of primary and secondary education, which would lead to a more realistic formula amount to determine state aid.
A combination of $771 million in additional state funds for K-12 education, $78 million for early childhood education, and the Straight A Fund will provide more state resources for schools than in recent years, but other policy changes in HB59, such as the expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship Program, additional mandates, and the elimination of property tax rollbacks, might cause even more fiscal problems for schools in the future.
According to House and Senate Republicans, no school district will receive less in state funds compared to FY13 levels, but an article in the Columbus Dispatch notes that “While the GOP news releases label their plan as the biggest school-funding increase in 10 years, they don’t say that next year’s funding level will surpass that of 2009 by only 1 percent. The jump in 2015 is up 7 percent from six years earlier.” (Source: “How big is Ohio’s budget investment in schools?” by Darrel Rowland, Columbus Dispatch, Saturday, June 29, 2013.)
Before signing the bill into law on June 30, 2013, Governor Kasich vetoed 22 items, including the following education provisions:
•Gifted Funding Spending Mandates for School Districts
The governor stated in the veto message that this item would force traditional school districts to hire a prescribed number of gifted personnel, which is contrary to a priority of the state to “… avoid such mandates, as well as to preserve maximum local control of schools”.
•Chiropractors and Policies for Assessing and Clearing Student Athletes with Concussions
This item was vetoed in order for lawmakers to engage in a more thorough discussion with the health-care
community about how to protect youth athletes from the dangers of sports-related concussions.
•Re-Testing Exemption for Teachers in Community Schools Primarily Comprised of Students with Disabilities
According to the governor’s veto message, this item “…would effectively lower teaching standards for students
with disabilities and set a precedent that would negatively impact our state.”
•Changes to Certain School Districts’ Local Share Agreements for Building Projects
Under this provision school districts would be able to unilaterally change the project agreements they reached
with the state regarding renovating and building schools in order to reduce their costs, which, according to the governor, would “substantially increase state spending and reduce funds that the state has available to assist other school districts that are waiting to participate in the program.”
The full report by Joan Platz found here is a review of some of the provisions included in HB59 that affect primary and secondary
education organized in three parts. The review is based on information provided by the Legislative Service
Commission, including Am. Sub. HB59 enrolled, the HB59 Budget in Detail enacted, HB59 Budget Comparison
Document enacted, HB59 Budget Analysis as passed by the Senate, and Governor Kasich’s veto message.
These documents are available at http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/budget/mainbudget.htm.
This review is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of HB59. When a thorough understanding is
needed the law should be consulted.