Week in Review > Week in Review 03-11-2022

Posted by on March 11th, 2022

FY22-23 BUDGET

Lower than expected income tax refunds drove tax collections a quarter billion dollars over estimates in February, according to preliminary figures from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Income tax collections of $301.9 million were more than 150 percent above estimates because of the fluctuation in refunds. For the fiscal year so far, income tax collections are 11.7 percent or $669.1 million above estimates, reaching more than $6.3 billion total. Sales taxes also beat estimates, bringing in $20.2 million or 2.5 percent more, with roughly equal contributions from the non-auto sales tax ($11.1 million or 1.6 percent above estimates) and auto sales tax (up $9.1 million or 7.9 percent). Sales taxes so far this fiscal year are ahead of estimates 3.8 percent or almost $308 million.

CORONAVIRUS

On March 9, 2020, Statehouse reporters gathered for a scheduled press conference on telehealth services for rural schools. Instead, they were told of the first three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency that Monday, with event cancellations, school closures and other executive and health orders issued in the days and weeks that followed. The 2020 primary election was delayed, though DeWine pledged to Ohioans in a March 17 news conference that “the sun is going to come out again.” In the two years since that first announcement, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has reported 2.66 million cases in the state, 113,002 hospitalizations and 13,288 ICU admissions as of Wednesday. The ODH mortality update from Tuesday showed 37,212 Ohioans have died from COVID-19.

ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff announced Thursday that the state will transition from daily to weekly COVID-19 data reporting amid what Vanderhoff called a “new phase” of the pandemic. With case numbers, hospitalizations, deaths and community transmission all trending steadily downward in recent weeks, Vanderhoff said COVID-19 is “evolving from that of a pandemic to more of an endemic state.” Daily reporting of the state’s key metrics including case counts, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and vaccinations will continue through Sunday, March 13. ODH will move to weekly Thursday updates beginning Thursday, March 17. COVID-19 deaths, which are currently reported twice weekly, will also be updated weekly on Thursdays, as will data about long-term care facilities and reports from ODH partner agencies.

EDUCATION

After a series of memos and filings on the proposition of EdChoice families’ joining a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s education voucher program, the judge in the case has scheduled a hearing on the issue. Several sets of parents of EdChoice students filed a motion to intervene in the case, in which a group of Ohio school districts and families attending district schools claim that the scholarship program violates the constitutional mandate for a “common” school system and the prohibition on giving religious groups control of education funding.

Speakers representing some of the dozens of organizations opposed to legislation restricting school instruction on certain controversial topics cast the bill as an attempt to evade important discussions out of fear or cynicism, and said they’re ramping up their efforts to ensure it doesn’t move. The Honest For Ohio Education coalition said further at a Wednesday Statehouse press conference that the bill does a disservice to students and is designed to make educators shy away from discussions of race, sex or other hot-button issues out of hesitation that they might imperil their jobs or their schools’ funding. The bill, HB327 (Grendell-Fowler-Arthur), is in the House State and Local Government Committee and has undergone multiple revisions, most recently in mid-February.

K-12 schools across Ohio are reporting increased concerns around a variety of mental health issues since COVID-19, according to a statewide Student Needs Assessment conducted by the Miami University’s Ohio School Wellness Initiative (OSWI) and the university’s Discovery Center between May and July 2021. When asked to evaluate their perceptions of changes in student needs since the pandemic began, about 75 percent of participating school officials reported increased concern for moderate to severe depression, significant anxiety, and social isolation among students. Nearly 60 percent of participants also reported increased concern for suicidal ideation/attempts and trauma exposure/posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Posted by on March 11th, 2022

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