OFT Update - Legislative issues 4.10.17

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Administration warns less state revenue available, budget plan needs downward adjustments

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee last week Ohio Budget and Management Director Tim Keen said state revenues are lower than forecast when the state budget was proposed earlier this year. This alarms us when more than half of Ohio's school districts are projected to get less funding. In contrast, the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, which provides a nonpartisan fiscal analysis for the General Assembly, says revenues will be higher than expected. A more clear picture will come into view after the April 15 income tax filing deadline.

Gov. John Kasich has spent several years of his term slashing state spending at the expense of those who need vital services. We count Ohio's children among them as education cuts, particularly this year, are deep. In the current budget Kasich proposes cutting funds to more than half of Ohio's school districts.

In past years the state also has made severe cuts to local government services, for example, which support police and fire services to protect our communities. Kasich has also cut income tax rates for the highest earning Ohioans in recent years. Tax cuts for the wealthy help the wealthy and harm the rest of us as funding for our schools and local protective services are slashed.

Sen. Peggy Lehner pushed back on the need for more tax cuts when Kasich's cuts in past years don’t seem to be working.

"The current year-to-date shortfall of $615 million already exceeds the $592 million shortfall anticipated in the executive budget revised estimates [for FY17]" -- a shortfall that he has said and continues to say the state can handle, according to Hannah News Service.

Keen provided some detail for the revenue shortfall, noting that, "At this point, the major tax sources are all below the estimate. The biggest shortfall is in the personal income tax, which is $448 million or 7.6 percent below the estimate. ... The sales and use tax is below the estimate by $161 million or 2.0 percent, with the shortfall concentrated in the non-auto tax, which is $158 million or 2.3 percent below estimate. The CAT [Commercial Activity Tax] is below estimate by $28 million or 2.8 percent," Hannah reported. Read more in the Hannah Report.

Hearing's focus on higher education

Chancellor John Carey testified before the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee on finance. Senators expressed concern about expanding Western Governors University's work in Ohio, textbook issues, how long it takes to complete college, and private schools opting out of college credit plus. For more, read the Hannah story.

Hearing's focus on K-12

Keen's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee about funding for K-12 education focused on the school funding formula, in support of ending guarantees, for which he got pushback from committee member, including republicans. For more, read the Hannah story.

New OSU study reveals factor leading to student succes

A new study from the Ohio State University suggests one factor that doesn’t need any cash to implement can play an important role in helping students succeed at even the most disadvantaged schools. That factor is what scientists call social capital - the network of relationships between school officials, teachers, parents and the community that builds trust and norms that promote academic achievement. For more, read the Hannah story.

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OFT Update - Legislative issues is an e-newsletter of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.