Week in Review > Week in Review 12-11-2020

Posted by on December 11th, 2020


Budget Director Kim Murnieks outlined broad plans before both finance committees this week for a $2 billion capital budget, with new funding for school and public works construction on top of that provided in SB4 (Rulli-Kunze) earlier this year, $50 million for local jail projects, plus hundreds of millions of dollars for higher education, prisons and parks. The capital bill is expected to be formally introduced next week.

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and Ohio Public Works Commission are in line for $300 million and $280 million, respectively, on top of $300 million and $255 million they received in SB4. Murnieks also said the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) expects the state will be well below the 5 percent cap on debt service — and likely below 4 percent — even with the additional borrowing needed for the proposal.


Sales tax collections beat estimates by nearly $40 million in November, while income taxes were about on target, the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) reported in preliminary revenue figures Monday. Tax collections were up 2.3 percent or $46.3 million in November and are ahead by 3.8 percent or $393.5 million so far this fiscal year.


Ohio is expected to begin its first phase of vaccine distribution on or around Dec. 15, Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday. During his COVID-19 briefing, DeWine outlined details of “Phase 1A,” in which priority for the vaccine will be given to EMS responders, health care workers and personnel who routinely care for COVID-19 patients, residents and staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and psychiatric hospitals, as well as those who live in group home settings such as some veterans and people with mental illnesses.

On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine said that the state is seeing somewhat of a leveling of COVID-19 cases in the state, but said it is still too early to say whether the state is flattening the curve once again after experiencing a spike over the past month. He attributed the leveling off to his administration’s masking order and the current curfew which shuts down most businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The latter order, which had been due to expire later this week, was extended until Jan. 2, 2021.


State Board of Education President Laura Kohler, Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and Renee Willis, superintendent of Richmond Heights City Schools, discussed the development and implications of the board’s summer resolution on racism and equity during a virtual Cleveland City Club forum Friday. The board voted in July to adopt the “Resolution to condemn racism and to advance equity and opportunity for black students, indigenous students and students of color” in the wake of nationwide protests over racism and police conduct sparked by the death of George Floyd. The resolution inspired lengthy debate and drew public criticism and praise at board meetings for months.

While K-12 school funding overhaul HB305 (Cupp-Patterson) passed the House with broad bipartisan support, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said the bill is promising but likely lacks the clarity and urgency necessary to pass the upper chamber during the lame duck session. This comment came during a Zoom budget forum hosted by G2G Consulting that also included House Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks. Murnieks said Gov. Mike DeWine has been clear that he is committed to wraparound services for students, and those programs will be funded in some form in the administration’s budget recommendation.

Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), one of many co-sponsors for the Senate version of the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan, said questions about the full price tag and the lost work time from the pandemic are factors in the chamber’s deliberations on it, but she expressed optimism about its prospects. Kunze joined Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Phil Robinson (D-Solon) and school finance expert Howard Fleeter at a Cleveland City Club virtual forum Monday to discuss the plan, passed by the House in HB305 (Cupp-Patterson) and pending in the Senate Finance Committee as SB376.

The Franklin County judge overseeing remaining assets for the defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) has approved the state’s proposal to settle claims against the former school treasurer in exchange for her assistance in the case against school founder William Lager. Attorney General Dave Yost’s office filed a motion last month 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.

Posted by on December 11th, 2020

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