With just over a week to go before the state’s two year budget must be signed into law, the Ohio Senate will vote on its version Thursday. The vote will occur after some last-minute changes to that spending plan, including new high school graduation requirements and moving Ohio's 2020 presidential primary election back one week.
The vote in the Senate Finance Committee was unanimous, as it was in the House Finance Committee in May. It was the first unanimous vote for a budget in that committee in more than a decade.
Changes to the budget include $8 million to help parents avoid giving up custody to get their kids medical treatment, and $100 million for struggling pharmacies and new requirements on pharmacy benefits managers.
The Senate version adds high school graduation requirements that start in 2023, and would require passing fewer state tests and allow for non-test alternatives toward getting a diploma. It allows people who will be 18 by October to buy tobacco products, though the buying age will rise to 21, and it changes the tax on e-cigarettes.
The budget allows charter schools to ban unvaccinated students, and calls for a study of state school report cards with a report and recommenations due in December.
After next year’s March presidential primary, the Senate version pushes primary election day one week, from the second Tuesday to the third Tuesday in March.
However, the Senate’s 8% income tax cut and its restoration of the $250,000 small business tax deduction will stay. Those are among the differences with the House budget that will be worked out in conference committee.
The House is expected to reject the Senate's changes Thursday, sending the budget to that committee. House Speaker Larry Householder said he expects to name conferees on Tuesday.
The compromise budget must pass both chambers and be signed by Gov. Mike DeWine by June 30.