COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives yesterday passed House Bill 49, the state operating budget. The bill addresses some of Ohio’s most pressing issues, including more than $170 million in funding towards combating Ohio’s opioid epidemic and providing additional resources to schools. Rep. Gavarone voted in support of the legislation.
In response to lower than expected revenue estimates, the House restrained spending and facilitated sound fiscal policies by staying under the rate of inflation for the first time in several years and spending about $2.5 billion less than the executive proposal over the biennium.
“Obviously, this budget has presented some challenges in terms of revenue projections,” Gavarone said. “However, I’m proud that we submitted a balanced budget that puts such a high level of importance towards funding our local schools and fighting the opiate epidemic.”
To underscore the importance of combating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic, the House appropriated funds totaling $170.6 million in new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda. Resources will be directed as follows:
- $80 million toward treatment (transitional housing, nursing beds pilot program, ADAMHS boards, expanding treatment/detox programs, drug courts)
- $50 million toward supporting children (Child Protective Services and kinship care)
- $19.4 million toward mental health (stabilization centers, residential state supplement, BCI processing lab reports, telemedicine coverage and mental health court pilot program)
- $12.2 million toward prevention (community coalition funding, investing in innovation & technology, accessible educational resources and Start Talking!)
- $9 million toward workforce (Short-term certificates and SNAP workforce & training funding)
Enhancing opportunities for all Ohioans is a central component of the state operating budget through additional school funding, ensuring that students have the resources to learn and grow. House Bill 49 increases funding compared to the executive budget proposal by more than $90 million over the biennium.
Through a series of provisions, the budget strengthens accountability in the state’s Medicaid program by placing guardrails on future Medicaid Group VIII spending through the Controlling Board. The bill also returns Medicaid oversight to the General Assembly by directing the Department of Medicaid to seek a federal waiver to require a Group VIII Medicaid recipient to be one of the following: over 55, medically fragile, employed, in an education or workforce training program, or in a recovery program.
Additional provisions in the budget include:
- Simplifying the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets and eliminating tax changes included in the executive budget proposal
- Modernizing the CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) Formula to give farmers more dispensation upon a true value of agricultural use, while having minimal impact on Ohio’s schools and local governments
- Addressing Ohio’s college tuition ratesby ensuring that the tuition students pay in their freshman year stays consistent throughout their four years
- Ensuring children receive the care and attention they deserve byrestoring the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH) program and funding it at $3 million per year
- Directing additional resources to the local levelby increasing funding for Indigent Defense
- Streamlining state government while ensuring licensure reform efforts by consolidating several state boards
The House’s budget bill, sponsored by House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.