Legislative Watch – April 21, 2023

House Adopts Substitute Budget Bill; Increases Funding for Public Schools and Raises State Teacher Minimum Salary

Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. OEA is delighted that the substitute bill includes OEA’s recommendation on updating the base cost inputs of the school funding plan by using FY 2022 data instead of outdated data from FY 2018. By updating the base cost components, it is estimated that the average per student base cost will increase from $7,352 in the current fiscal year to $8,241 in FY 2024. This represents a 12.1% increase from the current per-pupil amount. The proposal continues the phase-in (years three and four of a six-year phase in) of the formula at 50% and 66.67% in FY 2024 and FY 2025 respectively. This increases state funding to public schools by nearly $1 billion over the biennium.

OEA is also pleased that the substitute bill proposes to raise the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $40,000, increases subsequent minimum salary steps using the same multipliers in the state minimum salary schedule, and includes other policy provisions to address Ohio’s teacher recruitment and retention challenge. The proposed $10,000 increase in the state minimum teacher salary is a critical step to reaching OEA’s goal of $50,000 for starting salaries.

Other positive changes that OEA supports in the substitute bill are:

  • Eliminates the mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and also eliminates the fall administration of all third-grade English language arts assessments, beginning with the 2023-24 school year.
  • Requires public and private schools to provide a meal at no cost to a student who is eligible for a reduced-priced meal. Appropriates an additional $8.4 million for this purpose.
  • Authorizes and appropriates $500,000 for an economically disadvantaged student cost study.
  • Changes the deadline for which teachers need to complete their dyslexia professional development (please see bill summary for more information)

However, the substitute bill increases eligibility for the income based EdChoice voucher program. The bill raises eligibility to 450% of poverty ($135,000 for a family of four) compared to 400% in the executive budget proposal and 250% under current law. OEA is opposed to expansion of voucher eligibility and continues to advocate for amendments that would bring additional accountability to Ohio’s voucher programs.

You may review an OEA summary of the provisions contained within the substitute bill here. House Bill 33 is expected to have additional changes and a vote next week in the Ohio House.

Over 500 Individuals Submit Opposition Testimony to Senate Bill 83: The Higher Education “Destruction” Act

This week, OEA President Scott DiMauro, Columbus State Education Association President Adam Keller, and other witnesses testified in opposition to Senate Bill 83. The bill sponsored by Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirkland) is a sweeping piece of legislation that proposes an unprecedented level of political interference and micromanagement of Ohio’s colleges and universities.

SB 83 is a series of contradictions on freedom of speech, claiming to promote intellectual diversity while simultaneously dictating the content and manner in which certain topics can be discussed. It would ban the types of training that ensure all students, no matter their backgrounds, can succeed.

The untenable mandates in SB 83 would shift money, time, and attention from student learning to bureaucracy. It would make it harder to attract students and faculty to Ohio’s institutions of higher learning, and in the long run, Ohio will become even less competitive economically.

Moreover, SB 83 attacks workers’ rights by attempting to ban the right to strike by any union representing faculty or staff on a campus. Under the guise of not wanting to disrupt student learning, the true intent of this portion of SB 83 is to weaken the power of campus workers to advocate for fair working conditions, which are students’ learning conditions.

You may access copies of the written testimonies and watch President DiMauro’s and CSEA President Keller’s remarks here.

Please continue to write your senator and ask that they oppose SB 83 by clicking here.

Amendment to Weaken Voice of Voters Passes Senate; House Committee Reports out its Version of the Amendment

On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). If approved by voters, the proposal would make it harder for Ohioans to pass future Constitutional amendments by requiring a 60% majority. SJR 2 would also make it harder for a citizen-led initiative to qualify for the ballot by requiring signatures from 5% of voters in all 88 counties and eliminating the 10-day cure period for signatures. SJR 2 passed the Ohio Senate on a party-line vote of 26-7.

OEA is opposed to this proposal as it weakens the voice of Ohio voters and undoes the basic principle of majority rule. Click here to read OEA’s opposition testimony.

The Senate also passed legislation, Senate Bill 92, that would create an August special election to bring the Constitutional amendment before voters. This comes just months after the legislature eliminated August special elections in most cases. SB 92 passed the Senate 25-8 with Senator Nathan Manning (R- North Ridgeville) joining Senate Democrats in opposition.

On the House side, House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1), a separate version of the same proposal was narrowly passed out of the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee. Wednesday marked the third hearing on the proposal. It was the first opportunity for opponents to HJR 1 to testify and well over 100 witnesses submitted testimony. However, after hearing from only 6 witnesses, the committee moved a vote on the measure. The committee passed HJR 1 by a vote of 7-6, with Representative Brett Hillyer (R- Uhrichsville) and the Democratic members of the committee in opposition.

It is unclear when the House will bring either HJR 1 or SJR 2 to the Floor for a vote. Click here to contact your state representative and express your opposition to this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary proposal.

Share your comments on the Student Interaction with Peace Officers Model Curriculum Draft

Please share your comments on the April 2023 version of the Draft – Student Interactions with Peace Officers Model Curriculum. The deadline for public comment on the rule is on April 24, 2023. To offer public comment, please click here. Your voice is needed!

For an archive of past Legislative Watch releases, visit the Legislative Watch archive.