The Ohio legislature passed a bipartisan supported budget bill (HB 110). The Catholic Conference of Ohio commends the diligent and thoughtful efforts by the administration and the General Assembly.
The bill provides unprecedented support for both public and private school students. Many Catholic school students, parents and administrators will receive needed assistance due to increases in voucher payments, supportive services, and the ability to participate in the newly created After-School Child Enrichment Savings Account Program to name just a few.
The bill strengthened the Governor's budget proposals that focused on children, families and persons in need. Special funding for multi-system youth and the OhioRise program was maintained. Provisions were removed that could have hindered access to the SNAP program, other public assistance programs, and affordable housing.
Increased funding was provided for the Parenting and Pregnancy Program which provides funding for pregnancy centers. Provisions further protecting conscience rights, and provisions addressing transfer agreements for abortion clinics also were passed.
Recognizes the authority of a medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer to decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service that violates the practitioner’s, institution’s, or payer’s conscience;
Adjusts provisions dealing with transfer agreements tied to permitting abortion clinics to operate;
Removes provisions that could have hindered access to the SNAP program, other public assistance programs, and affordable housing;
Increases Medicaid funding to prevent custody relinquishment of youth involved in multiple systems;
Increases funding for Help Me Grow, a home visiting program encouraging prenatal and well-baby care;
Increases funding for public health material health programs, emergency care related to addiction, housing for pregnant mothers, and funding to address social determinants of health, including money specifically for lead abatement;
Permits clergy to bring small amounts of sacramental wine into facilities under the control of the departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Developmental Disabilities, Youth Services, and Rehabilitation and Correction facilities
Retains for two years, the House version of the Fair School Funding Plan, which increases the estimated statewide base cost per pupil for a public school student to $7,202;
Directly funds 100 percent 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 deducting funds to pay for the students at their schools of choice;
Changes eligibility criteria for public schools to be on the “eligible list” of low-performing schools in 2023-24 and 2024-25: this may impact the number of students who qualify for a scholarship;
Improves application process and notifications to parents for families who apply for EdChoice scholarships;
Qualifies nonpublic elementary schools located outside the Cleveland School District to accept students with Cleveland Scholarships on the same basis permitted under current law for schools students in grades -12 (if school is located within 5 miles of the district border and within a corporation of at least 15,00 people);
Increases the base scholarship amount in the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship to $6,217 for FY2022 and $6,414 for FY2021 and increases the additional dollar amounts for each child’s special education program based on category of disability; provides for increases in future years based on percentage increases for special needs students in public schools’
Increases the maximum scholarship amounts for the Autism Scholarship Program to $31,500 in FY2022 and $32,455 for FY2023;
Increases the maximum scholarship amounts for the performance-based and income-based EdChoice scholarships and the Cleveland scholarships to $5,500 for grades K-8 and $7,500 for grades 9-12 and requires these amounts to increase in future years based on the statewide average base cost per pupil for public school students;
Allows students to be eligible for an EdChoice scholarship in 2021-2022 if they were in eighth grade in a nonpublic school during 2020/2021 and are entering ninth grade during 2021/2022
Allows siblings of students eligible under EdChoice provisions to be eligible for EdChoice scholarships
Establishes the After-School Child Enrichment Savings Account Program, providing $500 to parents of students ages 6-18 for certain after-school supplemental programs; parents must have family income at or below 300 percent of poverty;
Provides for a credit of up to $750 per taxable year for cash donations made to a scholarship-granting organization (SGO) for primary and secondary students that prioritizes awards to low-income students.
Permits Catholic and other sectarian nonpublic schools to receive Auxiliary Services funds directly (rather than through a public school district and to designate an organization (such as a diocese) to manage the funds and to charge the school up to 4 percent of the total amount of payments to do so;
Provides helpful changes in school bus transportation laws, including a prohibition against transporting K-8 students on mass transit unless the nonpublic school and district agree; increases the dollar amount given to parents for “payment in lieu of transportation”;
Provides increases in Auxiliary Services and Nonpublic Administrative Cost Reimbursement to benefit students attending Catholic and other chartered nonpublic schools.