The Ohio Senate unveiled their version of the State Budget (HB 110). It builds upon the Governor's and House proposals that promote children, families and persons in need. The Senate added additional provisions that further promotes school choice. The Conference commends such additions and especially recognizes the excellent leadership that Senate President, Matt Huffman, provided in this area.
Highlights in the Education line items include:
- Increases max scholarship awards for students receiving an Ed Choice or Cleveland Scholarship to $5,500 (grades K-8) and $7,500 (grades 9-12);
- Extends eligibility for traditional EdChoice scholarships, including provisions for siblings, foster children and incoming 9th graders; gradually phases out the requirement for a student first to be enrolled in a public school;
- Provides helpful improvements to the EdChoice scholarship eligibility, notification, funding and administrative procedures;
- Directly funds 100% of the scholarship cost for students who receive EdChoice, Cleveland, Autism, or Jon Peterson scholarships, rather than funding these students in their districts of residence and then deducting funds to pay for the students at their schools of choice;
- Extends eligibility for Cleveland scholarships to K-8 nonpublic schools located within 5 miles of the Cleveland School District;
- Allows a nonpublic school that elects to receive Auxiliary Services directly to designate an organization (e.g., a diocese) to receive the funds on its behalf;
- Removes the statutory per-pupil cap on Administrative Cost Reimbursement;
- Eliminates the requirement that an early childhood education program meet the 3rd highest tier of Step Up to Quality in order to qualify for state funding;
- Creates a $1,000 tax credit for those who donate to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) providing scholarships, primarily to low income students, to attend a non-public school;
- Increases the formula amount for determining Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship awards and increases the appropriation for the Peterson program;
- Increases the maximum scholarship amount of the Autism Scholarship Program to $31,500 in FY22 and $32,455 in FY23;
- Maintains helpful House passed provisions related to Auxiliary Services, Administrative Cost Reimbursement, College Credit Plus, and school busing, and increases the payment in lieu of transportation to 50% of the local cost of transporting the student, up to $2,500..
A full Senate vote is expected on Thursday, June 10, 2021. A Conference Committee will meet shortly afterwards to reconcile differences between the Executive, House and Senate versions. A balanced budget must be enacted by July 1, 2021.