Ohio Legislature May Be Nearing Agreement On State Budget

Jul 16, 2019

Lawmakers who have been negotiating Ohio's next two-year state budget were set to reconvene Tuesday, a day before the extended deadline for the House and Senate to pass the $69 billion spending plan.

The conference committee was scheduled to meet late Tuesday afternoon amid speculation that it had finally reached an agreement on the budget. Lawmakers have been hashing out differences between the House and Senate versions, including on tax breaks, school funding and policies related to health care.

The state has been operating under a 17-day temporary budget this month since the Republican-led Legislature missed the original deadline for the first time since 2009.

The budget must be approved by the House and Senate and signed by GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who can veto elements he doesn't approve.

Many of his spending priorities were reflected in the chambers' budget proposals, though legislative leaders and the conference committee still had to sort out hundreds of differences, including on tax cuts.

Among the sticking points was a $250,000 business deduction that DeWine favors keeping. GOP Senate President Larry Obhof wanted to retain the $250,000 deduction and also raise a 3% limit on income above $250,000. Republican House Speaker Larry Householder agreed with raising that limit but wanted to reduce the deduction to $100,000.

For personal income taxes, the Senate version would have eliminated the bottom two tax brackets and decreased tax rates for the others by 8% over two years. The House proposed a 6.6% cut.

The House and Senate also disagreed on funding for educational wraparound services, changing high school graduation requirements, altering state intervention in poor-performing school districts, taxing vaping products, and increasing reporting requirements for pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.