Week in Review > Week In Review 8-14-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on August 14th, 2023
A group seeking to add an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would end qualified immunity for police officers and other government employees has resubmitted its petition language for the sixth time after previous versions were rejected by Attorney General Dave Yost. The proposed “Protecting Ohioans’ Constitutional Rights” amendment would bar any “government actor” from using “any immunities or defenses which are only available to government actors or any subset thereof, including but not limited to qualified immunity, sovereign immunity, prosecutorial immunity, or any immunity provided to the state, political subdivisions, or public employees by statute.” Yost had previously rejected the summary language for the petition five times, saying that the language included “omissions and misstatements that, as a whole, would mislead a potential signer as to the actual scope and effect of the proposal.” Action by the attorney general on this latest submission is due Friday, Aug. 18.
The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) released July 2023 preliminary revenue data Monday. For this first month of FY24, total General Revenue Fund tax receipts finished $13.2 million (0.6 percent) above estimate. The two components of the sales tax, the non-auto and the auto, balanced each other out, with the non-auto sales tax collections coming in $26.1 million or 2.6 percent above the July estimate. However, the auto sales tax collections were $26.1 million or 15.2 percent below estimate. Compared to FY23, the two sales tax categories this year brought in nearly $53.8 million more, for a total of nearly $1.2 billion for the month. Personal income tax (PIT) collections almost solely accounted for the month’s excess revenue, bringing in $11.6 million or 1.6 percent above the anticipated level. Compared to this time last year, the FY24 PIT has brought in nearly $17.5 million more for a total of $741.7 million.
IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET
Legislation introduced earlier this year creating a new Office of Data Analytics and Archives was put into the budget by the Ohio Senate, a move hailed by Secretary of State Frank LaRose as a first-ever substantive effort by any state to adopt a clear and consistent method for retaining election data. LaRose and Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) introduced the provision as SB71 (Gavarone) in February. Dubbed the Data Analysis Transparency Archive (DATA) Act, they said the bill would improve the election data collection and retention to boost election transparency in Ohio. LaRose said at the time that there have been inconsistent standards on voter data, including how it is defined, and how long it should be stored. SB71 passed the Senate in May, with Gavarone saying on the floor that it would require election data to be “maintained, disclosed, analyzed, and archived in a modern way.” Democrats voted against the legislation, saying the majority had declined to consider technical changes sought by election officials to ease the process and that the bill was unnecessary as the secretary of state could implement the provisions via directives. The Senate Finance Committee included it in its substitute version of budget bill HB33 (Edwards), and the provision was kept by the conference committee in the final version.
With a wide swath of Ohio in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse, the General Assembly appropriated $1 million to reimburse associated response costs for emergency management and first responders. Guidance regarding eligibility will be released by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA), which already has a website providing eclipse information at https://eclipse.ohio.gov/. The eclipse’s path of totality will be approximately 124 miles wide — including Dayton, Springfield, Lima, Toledo, Cleveland and much of Lake Erie — while Columbus and Cincinnati will have at least 95 percent totality. The greatest duration for Ohio will be visible in Avon Lake (Lorain County).
Gov. Mike DeWine and Interim Superintendent Chris Woolard discussed the rollout Thursday of new literacy resources as part of the ReadOhio initiative, supported by budget funding and policies that seek to spread schools’ adoption of the “science of reading.” DeWine spent the spring touring numerous schools in support of his push to embed in schools more instruction, materials and coaching aligned to the science of reading, which generally means systematic instruction in topics including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. His proposals to fund high-quality instruction materials, teacher training and placement of literacy coaches in high-need districts generally survived into the final version of HB33 (Edwards).
The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra are planning to decline funding earmarked for them in the state operating budget, leaders of the organizations told the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The organizations each received a $500,000 appropriation in HB33 (Edwards), but accepting the money would make them ineligible for OAC sustainability funding, according to OAC guidelines. The Musical Arts Association (better known as the Cleveland Orchestra) received $750,000 in OAC sustainability funding, while the Cleveland Museum of Art received $794,273. Leaders of the organizations both wrote letters to OAC Executive Director Donna Collins informing her of their plans to decline the earmarked HB33 funding, saying they didn’t ask lawmakers for the extra money.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday he’s naming Kara Wente as director of the new Department of Children and Youth (DCY), elevating her from the similar position she now holds in his office. Wente has served since the beginning of the year as director of the Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiatives, which DeWine created at the outset of his administration to coordinate efforts across departments. She testified before lawmakers this budget cycle on the creation of DCY after DeWine included it in his executive budget proposal and has been leading the transition team on its implementation following the signing of HB33 (Edwards). DCY will consolidate numerous programs focused on children birth to age 5 from several state agencies. While HB33 provided until the start of 2025 for completion of the shift, Wente has outlined a 90-day plan for key efforts. Her appointment is subject to consent of the Ohio Senate.
The Biden administration recently announced new efforts to expand registered apprenticeships for teachers and provide other support for teacher preparation programs. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is providing $27 million to support educator preparation programs: $14.5 million for Teacher Quality Partnership grants and $12.7 million in Supporting Effective Educator Development funds. The latter source includes more than $380,000 in initial funding out of an expected $3.5 million award for the Urban Network to Inspire Teaching Excellence at Cleveland State University. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is providing more than $65 million in formula and competitive grants to develop and scale registered apprenticeship programs in the field of education and other workforce sectors. DOL also announced a new industry intermediary for registered apprenticeships specifically focused on K-12 education, RTI international. DOL has approved new National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards for registered apprenticeships for K-12 teachers. The guidelines were developed by the Pathways Alliance and are available at https://tinyurl.com/3hta7h99.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently announced the 11 teachers selected as their State Board of Education (SBOE) district’s Teacher of the Year for 2024. From that group, the following four finalists were named in the competition to become the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year: Joseph Miller, Port Clinton City Schools, State Board District 2; Mark Lowrie, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, State Board District 6; Andrea Novicky, Springfield Local Schools, State Board District 10; and Shanti’ Coaston, Westlake City Schools, State Board District 11.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced that it is providing $600,000 to 29 individuals participating in the Columbus Promise program to work as interns at 11 local nonprofit organizations during the upcoming school year. Columbus Promise is a joint initiative that allows eligible Columbus City Schools graduates to attend six semesters at Columbus State Community College for free. The program also provides internships for the students and gives them other supports to help them be successful in college and beyond.
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