Week in Review > Week in Review 11-13-2020Posted by Kevin Miller on November 13th, 2020
Strong sales tax collections offset a drop in income tax revenue to put the state $84.8 million or 4.3 percent ahead of estimates for October, according to preliminary data from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). For the fiscal year to date, tax revenues are up $347.2 million or 4.2 percent, with $8.62 billion collected through October versus $8.27 billion expected. Sales tax collections represent the bulk of the overage, coming in nearly $268 million or 7.3 percent ahead of projections. Notwithstanding, the current overage, the pandemic and its economic effects are creating significant uncertainty for the coming months, according to OBM Director Kimberly Murnieks.
A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) examining child health amid the COVID-19 pandemic warned that school closings could increase childhood obesity due to a decrease in children’s physical activity. The report, “State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic,” states that nationwide school closings could lead to as many as 1.2 million new cases of childhood obesity, amounting to a 2.4 percent overall increase in obesity among children. Before the onset of the pandemic, as many as 75 percent of children in the United States did not get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and with virtual schooling becoming the predominant form of primary education, the authors caution that childhood physical activity could decrease further.
COVID cases climbed upward substantially over the week, with new records for daily case growth again broken soon after they were set. The 5,008 cases reported Friday, Nov. 6 marked a new record at the time, one quickly overtaken by Saturday’s 5,549 cases, Tuesday’s 6,508 cases and Thursday’s 7,101 cases. The updated Ohio Public Health Advisory System map now has 68 counites that are rated as having a very high risk of exposure and spread, up from 56 counties las week and hitting the highest number of red, level three counties since the launch of the advisory system in July.
With Ohio in the midst of a “third wave” with far higher COVID-19 numbers than the spring and summer, Gov. Mike DeWine told the public Wednesday evening that previous health orders on masks and gathering limits are being “reaffirmed” with additional provisions. He continued that another closure of restaurants, bars and fitness centers may be ordered based on how the data changes by Thursday, Nov. 19. The order on masks is being reissued with three new provisions on mandatory signage, requirements for businesses to enforce the order and creation of a state retail compliance unit. First violations will result in a written warning, while a second violation can lead to store closure for up to 24 hours.
While Ohio health leaders said the state is in the “most significant” level of COVID-19 spread currently, there is a path out of the pandemic with the separate announcement Monday of a Pfizer vaccine candidate that appears to be at least 90 percent effective based on initial results. Cleveland Clinic Chief of Medical Operations Robert Wyllie said that means a vaccine should be widely available in “four to six months” and that people should continue safety protocols until then.
Eliminating the floor for local funding shares and prioritizing aid for economically disadvantaged students are among key changes proposed for the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan, which was also introduced as a bipartisan Senate bill. Key legislative backers of the “Fair School Funding Plan” hosted a videoconference Friday to explain updates to the as-introduced version of HB305 (Cupp-Patterson) and announce the debut of SB376, sponsored by Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron).
Attorney General Dave Yost’s office asked for court approval of a settlement with the former treasurer of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), saying she has agreed to provide evidence for the state’s case against ECOT founder William Lager. Yost’s office filed a motion Thursday, Nov. 5 for approval of a settlement with Michele Smith that would dismiss claims against her and her bonding company in exchange for her assistance in helping the state press its claims against Lager.
The average math score on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 12th grade students was essentially unchanged from 2015’s results, while reading scores declined, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The report is generally known as the Nation’s Report Card.
The return of high school football and other fall sports has not contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in the state, Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Executive Director Doug Ute said Monday during a virtual session of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Capital Conference. “To our knowledge … none of our events have caused the spread of the virus this fall. So that’s huge to point out.”
A number of Ohio educators said the substitute version of school funding reform bill HB305 (Cupp-Patterson), accepted by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, should be passed and signed into law as soon as possible to fix Ohio’s unconstitutional school funding system.
The State Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday to formally back lame-duck passage of legislation supporting expansion of broadband access, HB13 (Carfagna-O’Brien), but could not reach quick consensus on endorsing an overhaul of school funding.
Hannah News subscribers can get a preview of the what the next General Assembly will look like in its updated “Faces of the 134th General Assembly” on the front page of www.hannah.com. Other resources available on the front page include a list of winners for the General Assembly and Congress with district addresses listed in an Excel spreadsheet, as well as a list of preliminary results from the election.
The Senate Republican Caucus unanimously elected Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) as the chamber’s president for the 134th General Assembly (GA), the Senate GOP announced Tuesday. Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) will serve as president pro tempore; Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) will serve as majority floor leader; and Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) will serve as majority whip, according to the caucus. All leadership members will formally be elected by their colleagues and sworn in during the opening session of the Senate on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) Wednesday released a statement endorsing the re-election of Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) to that office. Then caucus dean, Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati), announced that House Republicans will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the Vern Riffe Center to select their leadership team for the 134th General Assembly.
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