The legislature has completed its work on the biennial budget bill, House Bill 166. In any two-year cycle, the budget is the most significant bill that the legislature considers. It funds state agencies and social services at both the state and local levels. It also reflects legislative choices about tax policy, the size and scope of government, and the role of government in the economy. During this year’s budget process, the Senate focused on the priorities of Ohioans. I believe that we made the right choices for the people of Ohio, and the budget bill passed the Senate with a rare unanimous vote (33-0). The final budget agreement with the House and Governor was approved by a strong bipartisan vote as well.
Ohio’s new budget bill keeps us on the right path by cutting taxes by nearly $700 million and getting rid of the red tape that stands in the way of economic growth and job creation. Make no mistake: this year’s budget bill makes significant new investments in important areas. This budget increases funding for education, and it dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars to preserving Lake Erie and Ohio’s waterways. It increases funding for child protective services, local governments, libraries, and higher education. It provides security funding for Jewish institutions so that we can prevent acts of violence like the mass shooting that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year. The budget dedicates new funding for law enforcement, including a task force that investigates internet crimes against children.
The new Ohio budget funds all of these things, and much more. But I firmly believe that tax dollars belong to the people who earned them, and that government should take no more than it needs. That is why I fought – often with leaders from my own political party – to make sure this budget provided tax relief to the hard-working men and women of Ohio. The final version of the budget reflects these values. We eliminated the bottom two income tax brackets – a 100% tax cut for the working poor. We also cut taxes across the board for all remaining brackets and largely maintained tax deductions for small businesses across Ohio. All told, the net tax cut in the year’s budget bill is roughly $700 million, a significant win for Ohio’s taxpayers.
The Senate didn’t just fight for tax relief: we also fought for major regulatory relief. One of the untold stories of America’s economic growth over the past few years has been the regulatory reforms put into place by President Trump. By requiring federal agencies to repeal two old regulations for each new regulation, the President has eliminated unnecessary red tape that harms the economy. My colleagues and I believe that such a policy would work for Ohio as well, and we proposed such reforms as part of our very first bill introduced this year, Senate Bill 1. I personally sponsored an amendment to include this language in the budget bill, and it was signed into law by Governor DeWine this month.
In short, the Ohio Senate doesn’t just talk the talk. We stuck with our core conservative values during the budget process. We funded the peoples’ priorities, but we also stood up for the taxpayers. We fought to eliminate regulations that stand in the way of job creation. We provided necessary services while cutting unnecessary rules and red tape.
Ohio has added more than 500,000 new jobs during my time in the Senate. I am confident that this budget keeps us on that path. In fact, pro-growth policies like tax cuts and regulatory reform will make Ohio even stronger in the coming years.
I welcome your input on the biennial budget or on any other bill. If you have questions, or if you have any ideas that you would like to share, you can reach me by phone at (614) 466-7505 or by e-mail at Obhof@ohiosenate.gov. You may also reach me by mail at State Senator Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.