Budget has more funding for schools



The state’s two-year budget has cleared both the chambers of the Ohio legislature and is headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature.

The $71.2 billion budget contains more funds for Delaware County schools and a path for the Delaware County Fair to improve its financial standing.

Under the two-year spending outline, no school district will receive less funding than it did in the current fiscal year, and many districts will receive increased state funding.

The Olentangy Local School District will receive the largest increase of Delaware County’s four public school districts, with a jump of 29.5 percent in 2016 and a 14.8 percent increase in 2017.

“We’re at least getting to that fairness issue and starting to address that,” said State Rep. Andy Brenner, R-Powell.

The Big Walnut Local School District will receive an increase of 9.9 percent in 2016 and an increase of 11 percent in 2017. Delaware City Schools’ state funding will increase by 3.1 percent and 3.3 percent. Buckeye Valley Local Schools will receive no increase in the first year of the two-year budget and an increase of 0.4 percent in the second year.

Overall, the budget contains about $600 million more in primary and secondary education funding than Kasich’s budget proposal.

The Delaware County Fair also has the opportunity to boost its revenue through a proposal Brenner pushed for.

A provision in the budget would allow county fairs that host a harness race with a one-day attendance of 40,000 or greater to levy and collect lodging taxes with voter approval.

Chip Thomson, president of the organization that runs the fair, has been advocating for the proposal for more than a year. He has said in the past that the fair and the famed Little Brown Jug harness race could be in jeopardy without additional revenue streams.

If approved, the lodging tax of up to 3 percent could be levied for a period of five years.

A ballot measure would have to be approved by county commissioners and go before voters.

The budget bill also establishes a grant program for county fairs, which would be eligible for $50,000 with a one-to-one local match.

The budget bill also establishes a $1.9 billion income tax cut and a slight increase in the tax on cigarettes.

“It was kind of an exhausting process,” said Brenner.

Kasich has until Tuesday to sign the budget.

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