Week in Review > Week In Review 7-17-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on July 14th, 2023
According to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), the state of Ohio ended FY23 on June 30 with tax revenues totaling $994.2 million or 3.6 percent above estimates for the year. The Personal Income Tax led the way for FY23, bringing in $645.1 million or 6.4 percent over estimates, for a total over the year of nearly $10.8 billion. It was followed by the non-auto sales tax, coming in at nearly $110.6 million or 1.0 percent over estimates while bringing in a total of nearly $11.5 billion for the year. The Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) ended the year nearly $82.9 million or 4.0 percent over estimates, with a total of nearly $2.2 billion for FY23. The auto sale tax brought in nearly $38.7 million or 2 percent over estimates for a total of nearly $2 billion for the year.
IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET
Gov. Mike DeWine and officials from his administration said Ohio’s implementation of the 9-8-8 suicide hotline a year ago has saved lives, with around 12,000 monthly calls and texts going to the 19 call centers around the state. DeWine and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss spoke at a press conference Friday to discuss the full funding of the service in HB33 (Edwards), the biennial budget. Criss said the state will be launching a new public service campaign to bring awareness to the hotline that is expected to start by the end of the calendar year. In addition to fully funding the crisis line with $46.5 million committed over the biennium in the budget, DeWine also talked about efforts in the budget to strengthen the care system to help anyone who is having a mental health or addiction crisis.
Changes to the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) that included making the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) director a nonvoting member and shifting more power to the Legislature were among the items struck down by Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this month. The governor’s veto message said the proposal would have changed the “historically successful membership composition” of TRAC, which was established in 1997.
Sports betting companies’ tax rates have been doubled less than a year into the industry’s legalization in Ohio. The final version of budget bill HB33 (Edwards) increased the sports gaming receipts tax from 10 percent to 20 percent. The governor proposed the change while the House removed it in its version. However, the Senate reinstated the tax increase and it remained in the bill following the conference committee’s negotiations. According to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC), the tax increase will likely generate between $100 million and $135 million per year. Revenue gains would be deposited into the Sports Gaming Profits Education Fund (98 percent) and the Problem Sports Gaming Fund (2 percent).
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Budget Chief Aaron Rausch and ODE Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Jennie Stump Monday took the State Board of Education (SBOE) on a tour of education funding and policy initiatives, explaining what made it into the final budget and what didn’t. The FY24-25 budget includes new state spending of about $2.79 billion over the biennium for K-12 education. However, due to the expiration of federal COVID relief dollars, the education department’s All Funds Budget will still see a decrease from $17.4 billion in FY23 to $17.1 billion in FY24 and to $15.7 billion in FY25. Rausch said changes to state foundation funding are the major drivers behind the large increases in new state spending. The budget continues the phase-in of the new school funding formula and includes updates to student enrollment and local capacity calculations. It also uses FY22 inputs for salaries, insurance and other expenditures to increase resources to schools. Another major area of funding is around the state’s school choice programs. The Senate was successful in establishing universal eligibility for the EdChoice Expansion program. Full scholarships will be available for families at or below 450 percent of the federal poverty level (which equals an income of about $135,000 for a family of four). Partial scholarships will be available for families earning above that amount with a 10 percent minimum scholarship award regardless of family income, Rausch said.
Most of the powers of the SBOE will be transferred to the DeWine administration over the next six months as a result of budget bill HB33, ODE officials said Monday. “Most of the budget bill provisions are effective 91 days after the act is filed with the secretary of state. … We do not know that date … but we are tracking that,” ODE Chief Legal Counsel Tony Palmer said during SBOE’s meeting. “There is also an additional 90 days after that, so it’s a period of six months altogether to complete any actions necessary to implement the transfer of powers.” ODE Chief of Staff Jessica Voltolini said she and other administration officials are working on an estimate of how many staffers will be moved from ODE — which will soon be renamed the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) — to SBOE in order to carry out SBOE’s remaining responsibilities, which mainly include teacher licensing.
Various groups and associations issued statements regarding the final version of HB33 which was signed by the governor very early on Tuesday, July 4. The bill ended up running 6,198 pages and the governor issued 44 vetoes.
County boards of elections could begin processing election returns earlier than previously, will get paid sooner for poll training, and won’t have to go through the state when buying electronic pollbooks, among other elections provisions in the biennial budget, HB33.
A late addition to the budget bill, HB33, created the Commission on Eastern European Affairs, with the conference committee requiring commission members to affirm Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and integrity. The commission was first included in the Senate-passed version of the budget, with 11 voting members and two nonvoting members. The governor will appoint nine voting members — two having three-year terms, four having two-year terms and three having one-year terms. The Senate president and House speaker will each appoint a private citizen as a voting member for three years, and the two nonvoting members will be legislators from each chamber. The commission must meet at least six times a year.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) recently announced the launch of an antisemitism awareness campaign, a part of the Biden administration’s broader U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. As part of the effort, the department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a letter to state education leaders “reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, a school environment free of discrimination based on race, color or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or religious identity.” The letter to state education leaders is at https://tinyurl.com/2h9v9r22. More information about the national strategy is at https://tinyurl.com/5h35pnz4.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the 2022-2023 third grade English Language Arts (ELA) tests scores on Monday. ODE Office of Assessment Director Lisa Chandler told the State Board of Education (SBOE) that the scores did not include exemptions or summer data. She noted that between 5,000 and 6,000 students took the test during the summer, which is a record high. A total of 122,000 students were tested, with 84 percent (about 102,000 students) doing so online and 16 percent (about 20,000 students) doing paper tests. The “proficient or higher” score increased to 63 percent in 2022-2023, up from 60 percent in 2021-2022. However, those meeting the promotion score dropped slightly from 76 percent in 2021-2022 to 75 percent in 2022-2023. However, Chandler noted that the scores needed to be promoted in 2022-2023 were slightly higher than the previous school year.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) on Tuesday released a document outlining the tentative process and timeline for the board’s search for its next permanent superintendent of public instruction. From Monday, July 17 through Friday, July 28, search firm Ray & Associates will conduct individual interviews with members of SBOE. On Wednesday, July 19, an online survey link for public input will be made available on the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) website, and will be active until Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Wednesday that up to 535 students will participate in the High School Tech Internship program, which reimburses Ohio employers for establishing a recruitment pipeline. The goal is to provide them with needed tech talent and give students valuable and early work experience. Job duties will be similar to what is expected for entry-level roles in software development, data, cloud and IT infrastructure, cybersecurity and broadband/5G. The businesses will be reimbursed for up to 100 percent of the intern wages, up to $5,000 per intern, and encouraged to hire the student. This money comes through the Third Frontier Commission, and schools partner with local employers. The Ohio Department of Education also provided grant funding for two intermediary organizations to assist with employer outreach and student recruitment.
Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and OhioHealth announced Tuesday a partnership designed to double the number of professionals trained in five health care fields and address a critical workforce shortage in Central Ohio. The joint investment totals at least $120 million. Over the next 10 years, Columbus State said it will double the number of students in nursing, surgical technology, medical imaging, respiratory therapy and sterile processing — five fields where there is strong demand from both students and employers.
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge will deliver the summer commencement address at Ohio State University (OSU). Fudge is a former Ohio congresswoman who earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio State. Approximately 1,600 degrees and certificates will be awarded at the Sunday, Aug. 6 ceremony at the Schottenstein Center.
Problems with housing, transportation, education, employment and racism are significant factors causing Ohio’s poor infant mortality rate, researchers from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) told the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) on Thursday. HPIO President Amy Rohling McGee said social, economic and environmental issues represent 50 percent of the modifiable factors that affect health, followed by health behaviors (30 percent) and clinical care (20 percent). Ohio ranks 41 out of the 50 states in infant mortality, Rohling McGee said, noting the infant mortality rate for Black Ohioans is 164 percent higher than the rate for White Ohioans. HPIO Vice President Amy Bush Stevens said the lack of stable housing is a key driver of infant mortality.
Panelists at the Columbus Metropolitan Club discussed Wednesday the current capabilities and limits of artificial intelligence (AI), while also receiving responses from OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology itself. The discussion title, “Exploring the Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence,” was even crafted by ChatGPT. The human panelists included Padma Sastry, adjunct professor at Franklin University and vice president at JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Andrew Perrault, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State University (OSU); and Kevin Lloyd, chief operating officer at Color Coded Labs. The discussion was hosted by David Staley, director of the OSU Center for the Humanities in Practice. Staley’s initial question was what is ChatGPT, and he directed it at the chatbot first. That led to a lengthy answer, including that the technology is an “advanced language model … designed to generate human-like responses in natural language based on the input it receives.” The response also noted ChatGPT answers may be incorrect at times.
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