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Ohio House votes to protect Education Funding, cut pay by 5 percent

Oct. 22, 2009: The Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill to protect education funding from potential cuts that could result in a loss of $2.4 billion for Ohio schools.  The bill also reduces by five percent the salary of Ohio House and Senate members.  The vote was 55-44 on House Bill 318, the Education Funding Protection Act.

“This two-year freeze in the income tax rate protects education while not raising taxes on Ohio families,” said Rep. Matt Szollosi (D-Toledo). “No Ohioan will pay more state income tax this year than last year on the same salary.  In fact, due to the increase in the personal exemption this year, people will actually save money on their taxes.”    

To fully fund Ohio schools, the bill freezes for two years the final phase of a series of income tax reductions that began in 2005.  Over the biennium, this will generate approximately $844 million for the state General Revenue Fund, $32.9 million for the Local Government Fund and $17.7 million for the Public Library Fund

“This bill ensures that Ohio schools will have the money they need and committed to them in the biennial budget, without raising taxes on Ohioans or making devastating cuts in other critical services,” said Rep. Peter S. Ujvagi (D-Toledo). “Freezing the tax rates for two years will balance the state’s budget in these extremely difficult economic times.”

The tax freeze would be in effect through the end of 2010. It delays the implementation of the final round of tax cuts approved in 2005.  According to the State Department of Taxation, a family of 4 making $60,000 per year will pay $5 less in 2009 than they did in 2008 under the provisions of HB 318.

The five percent pay cut for members of the Ohio House and Senate is permanent and will go into effect in 2011, due to a law that prohibits lawmakers from changing their salary in the middle of a fiscal year. 

The pay cuts are part of an effort to reduce the cost of government in Ohio. Earlier this year, the legislative budget was reduced by 10 percent for the current biennium. Ohio is currently ranked 50th in legislative branch expenditures per capita, according to NCSL.  Current budget reductions and newly announced pay cuts will likely keep Ohio’s legislative spending the lowest in the country.

“Families across Ohio are feeling the pain of the national economy and making difficult decisions as they try to make ends meet, “said Rep. Edna Brown (D-Toledo). “It is only right that we in the legislature do our share by reducing our own salaries. I am deeply disappointed that my colleagues who voted against this bill are unwilling to share in the sacrifice of these challenging times. ”

The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.






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