Legislative activity picked up in February at the statehouse as Ohio’s (operating) budget process is fully underway. On February 1, 2021, Governor DeWine introduced his Administration’s biennial operating “blue book” budget outline, and the following week (as customary) the actual budget bill was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. House Finance Committee hearings have commenced and remain ongoing each week as various Administrative Agency representatives (including the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education) present testimony regarding their budget proposals and overall fiscal outlook.
After the House considers and vets the budget bill, the lower chamber will send an amended version to the Senate for consideration. Once the Senate makes its changes, the legislature will establish a conference committee to settle any differences and craft a final version of the bill. By law, the budget must be delivered to and executed by the Governor by June 30, 2021.
Career-tech educators began advocating for the 2021CTE Legislative Priorities during virtual visits with legislators as part of the virtual Legislative Seminar, Feb. 9-11, and will begin advocating CTE -specific budget (funding) priorities in the coming weeks before different legislative committees.
Here is a brief snapshot of highlights from the Administration’s proposed budget.
School Funding Formula: The Administration’s proposal does not adjust the state’s (k-12) school funding formula and continues the current two-year funding “freeze.” But the Governor has commented that he seeks to leave this particular policy item up to the legislature, which will be considering changes to the formula via House Bill 1 (Fair School Funding Plan). Legislative leaders have signaled their intent to try and merge the new school funding plan with the state budget bill. This significant undertaking will be the subject of robust consideration and debate by both chambers over the ensuing months.
Wellness and Success Funding: The proposed budget continues a healthy investment in wraparound services for primary and secondary students. The line item has been increased to $500M in FY 22 and $600M in FY 23.
Funding for Industry Credentials: The Administration’s proposal increases substantial investments in several industry credential programs created during the last budget:
- $5M to for 5,000 tech-focused (adult) credentials in FY 21 (“TechCred”)
- $50M over the biennium for 40,000 tech-focused (adult) credentials (“TechCred”)
- $15M in workforce efforts focused on economically distressed rural and urban communities.
- $41M for High School Industry-Recognized Credentials (IWIP / Test Reimbursement)
Ohio Technical Center Line Item: The Ohio Department of Higher Education proposed a 3% increase in funding for OTCs from the last budget, resulting in $41.6M over the biennium.
Support for Small Business: The proposal includes:
- $200M in grants for bars and restaurants;
- $150M in grants for Small Business Relief Grant applicants, who previously applied and are qualified;
- $50M in grants for lodging industry businesses;
- $40M in grants for indoor entertainment venues;
- $20M in grants for new businesses, many of whom were unqualified to receive previous funding.
Ohio ACTE leadership will continue to work with ODE and the Legislature to ensure career-tech student needs are represented throughout the budget process.
by Will Vorys, attorney, Dickinson Wright LLC, Ohio ACTE Legislative Counsel