State Senator Matt Dolan Newsletter
Perhaps this summer went so quickly because I was in Columbus until late June, finishing up work on Ohio’s operating budget. After long deliberation, testimony and — dare I say it – compromise, the governor signed the budget at 11:45 PM on June 30.
As with any piece of legislation, particularly one the size of the budget (over 5,000 pages), there are provisions I support and some that I do not.
On the bright side, we did not raise taxes despite facing a $1.1 billion deficit. However, doing so required making some difficult decisions. Balancing the budget required a combination of severe cuts to state agencies, provider cuts in Medicaid, reduced funding to local governments, and a major change in how Ohio houses state prisoners.
The vast majority of Ohio’s operating budget is spent on education, Medicaid and state prisons. While the overall spending on k-12 spending was increased, I remain frustrated about the way the funds get distributed across the state. Once again, school districts in the 24th district receive substantially less state funding then their peers in the urban and rural parts of the state. To the great credit of the administrations, teachers, students and parents (who pay for the schools through higher than wanted local taxes), SD24 schools remain among the schools in Ohio.
I also remain frustrated, but not hopeless, that schools that relied upon the state’s promise to reimburse the loss of personal property tax (TPP) revenue did not recover their fair share. I am still looking for any opportunity to return some of those dollars, so stay tuned.
Shifting gears, the legislature did make a strategic investment in combating the opioid crisis. We are investing in local governments so they can provide the treatment necessary for those addicted, as well as punishing those who are pushing this poison into our society.
The House and Senate also made significant changes to Ohio’s Medicaid system. This was done with the purpose of maintaining the cost to Ohio taxpayers as the federal government contemplates changes to the Medicaid system through the Affordable Care Act. The governor’s veto of some of these measures has been overturned by the legislature. Over the next few months I anticipate much more discussion on the administration of Medicaid in Ohio.
Finally, I opened this summary with the fact Ohio faced a $1 billion deficit. While this budget anticipates closing that deficit, we must be mindful of the current economic conditions in Ohio. Is the revenue shortage the result of faulty forecasting, Ohio tax policy or unemployment in the state? The end of the budget process does not bring the end my responsibility to the finances of Ohio.