The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 166—the State operating budget for 2020-2021—in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, June 20. However, there is still work to do in settling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget before the June 30 deadline.
The House approved its version of the state budget on April 9 with a vote of 85-9.
All three of Delaware County’s legislators voted in favor of House Bill 166.
“There are many important aspects of this bill that I am proud to vote in favor of,” Senator Andrew Brenner (R), Powell, stated in his press release dated June 21. “The Finance Committee and entire Ohio Senate have done great work on this bill, especially in regard to graduation requirements and tax cuts. It was an honor to work beside my colleagues, passionate stakeholders and constituents to produce a budget that will have a positive impact across the state.”
Brenner states that the Senate version of the bill supports investments in education, healthcare, and essential services while providing cuts in State taxes. The more general provisions of the bill invest in health and well-being, education and career readiness, and funding to protect Lake Erie and the State’s natural resources.
Brenner points out that the Senate’s tax relief package represents over $640 million in tax cuts and “represents the Senate’s belief that lower taxes and fewer regulations make a significant difference in Ohio’s economy and the lives of the people who call Ohio home.”
Representative Kris Jordan (R), Ostrander, said there are a lot of differences between the House and Senate bills.
“I like the Senate version of education better because it is moving away from the state funding cap,” he said. “It also gets rid of the tax issues with precious metals investment. It’s like a Roth IRA. Why punish people to invest?”
Jordan said the Senate version also has more tax cuts for small businesses and the House bill has more tax cuts for individuals.
“You earned the money,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to spend your money better than you do.”
Representative Rick Carfagna (R), Genoa Township, said the budget addresses the many “deficiencies throughout Ohio” yet stays “structurally balanced and fiscally responsible.”
“I applaud Governor (Mike) DeWine, the House and the Senate leaders for coordinating efforts to help with society’s most vulnerable (people), enhancement of workforce training, and combat addiction and mental illness while providing tax relief to all Ohioans.”
Carfagna said since there is so many difference in the two versions of the bill it is now “in conference committee.”
“There are literally hundreds of differences, and the committee will take a good portion of the week—if not all week—to reconcile them all,” he said. “I think it kicks off the hearing (Tuesday, June 25). Worst-case scenario is it drags on into the weekend. Both chambers will need to vote on the conference report once done, but the budget must be finalized by month’s end.”
The bill now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget signed by the governor by June 30.
“I’m proud of the strong bipartisan support in the Senate for this budget,” said Senate President Larry Obhof (R), Medina. “Our members have worked hard to represent the needs and priorities of their constituents, and this budget allows us to invest in Ohioans while being fiscally responsible and taking every opportunity to return their hard-earned tax dollars.”