Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Budget Passes House Unanimously

Just got an email presser from Rep. Brian Williams's office supporting the budget and announcing the House vote. Some thoughts on the other side:

    State Rep. Williams said today that he voted for the $52.1 Billion, two-year state operating budget, which passed the full House on Tuesday, with a surprising 97-0 vote. This Budget represents a spending increase of 2 percent pet year, which is lower than any budget in the last 42 years.

    “The fact that Democrats and Republicans reached consensus on the Budget is a positive nod for the importance of two party rule in Ohio. By having a Democratic Governor, Ohio will benefit from a more balance government than we have seen in almost two decades. I hope the tone set today in Session, will continue a bi-partisanship that will solve many of the problems Ohio faces in this 127th General Assembly,” Williams said.

    Included in this Budget Bill is Governor Strickland’s plan for senior citizen property tax relief and several other major changes in state policy, including:

    - Historic new investments in higher education and a freeze of tuition rates at Ohio’s public universities for the 2008-09 school year.

    - Expanded access to health care for children whose parents earn up to 300 percent of the poverty level – a major step toward Democrats’ ultimate goal of ensuring every child in Ohio has access to affordable health care.

    - A new era of fiscal discipline at the Statehouse through tough decisions that would make this budget the slowest growth state spending plan in 42 years.

    “This budget plan is a major break with the past, and it reflects many of the core priorities of Governor Strickland’s Turn Around Ohio Plan, which were introduced during Governor Strickland’s campaign” said Williams, D-Akron.

    Representative Williams said the plan for property tax relief for senior citizens is particularly important. The budget calls for expanding the Homestead Exemption to allow the disabled and all homeowners age 65 years and over – regardless of income – to pay no property tax on the first $25,000 of their home’s market value.

    “For years, too much of the burden of paying for schools has been placed on the property tax, in violation of Ohio’s Constitution, and that has hurt our seniors,” Williams said. “With this budget, one out of every four Ohioans stands to gain real tax relief.”

    According to the Department of Taxation, the plan would mean an average annual savings of:

    - $485 for senior citizens living in the Akron CSD School District, a 32.5 percent savings on the typical district home, one worth a median $77,000.

    - $422 for senior citizens living in the Copley-Fairlawn CSD School District, a 16.0 percent savings on the typical district home, one worth a median $156,000.

    - $367 for senior citizens living in the Norton CSD School District, a 22.9 percent savings on the typical district home, one worth a median $109,000.

    - $365 in the Twinsburg CSD School District, a 14.9 percent savings on the typical district home, one worth a median $168,000. *

    Representative Williams was pleased to support the Governor’s first biennial budget and looks forward to further support as it moves to the Ohio Senate.
It's not clear whether from this what got done in an omnibus spending amendment and what might have been in it. I also note no discussion about Strickland's attempts to roll back privatization. According to this afternoon's Dispatch:
    Republicans reversed Strickland's attempt to end the state EdChoice voucher program and his limits on for-profit charter school operators. They also set aside $20 million for the creation of STEM academies focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
I'll try to digest all this and get something more up tonight.