Legislative Watch – August 4, 2023

OEA Summary of Final Budget Bill

On July 3, 2023, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years (FY) 2024 and 2025. OEA members, staff, and partners had been involved in the budget debate since the beginning of the year. And because of our combined advocacy, we were able to secure major gains in education funding and positive policy changes for public education, educators, and students in Ohio.

Because of our work to build a bloc of pro-public education, bi-partisan legislators in the Ohio House, the final budget bill contains the House-passed version of the Fair School Funding Plan.  This version updates the base cost inputs to FY 2022 and continues years three and four of the phase in of the plan (this was OEA’s top budget priority for the 135th General Assembly). It is estimated that this will increase public education funding by nearly $1 billion over the two-year period. We also were able to have an economically disadvantaged pupil cost study included in the final version of the bill. More details of the education funding changes are included in OEA’s summary of the as-passed version of HB 33.

Additionally, because of OEA member engagement and advocacy we were able to obtain the following positive public education policy changes: 

  • The act increases the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $35,000, creates a “Grow Your Own Teacher” program to help high need schools recruit and train qualified educators from their own staff and community, and makes other improvements to staff recruitment and retention policies.
  • The HB 33 conference committee removed the inclusion of Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education Destruction Act, from the final version of the bill. 
  • The act returns local control to Lorain City Schools. OEA advocated also for the removal of Youngstown City Schools and East Cleveland City Schools from their academic distress commissions, however, this was not included in the final version of HB 33. 
  • The act expands the free breakfast and lunch program to any student who qualifies for reduced meals, making major advances to combat childhood hunger.  
  • And finally, after years of advocacy from OEA members across the state, the Ohio General Assembly included OEA’s ask to end mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.  Parents and educators, not standardized test scores, will now determine whether a student should be retained or promoted under the program. Finally, the act provides for additional supports for students under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and creates a safe harbor provision allowing parents and educators to determine whether a student needs to be retained in the 2023-2024 school year. 

These gains in funding and improvements to education policy were only possible because of the thousands of members who wrote letters to and called their elected officials, as well as the members who participated in OEA Lobby Days throughout this budget cycle.

We would be remiss not to mention that while the state budget contained many positive changes, the Ohio Senate was able to include provisions that OEA vocally opposed throughout the budget process.  Namely, these include:

  • The expansion of the income based EdChoice voucher program to universal eligibility for K-12 students and provides reduced voucher amounts for families over 450% of poverty.
  • Senate Bill 1, which limits the role of the State Board of Education by shifting most of its powers and duties to a new cabinet agency named the Department of Education and Workforce.

While we still have a lot of work ahead to address major issues facing public education in Ohio, it is because of your advocacy we were able to make big gains for public education in HB 33.

Your continued engagement and advocacy will be necessary to continue to create sound, comprehensive policy solutions to educator recruitment and retention challenges, navigate the new education governance landscape, push for accountability and transparency for private schools receiving vouchers, and advance needed policies to address the growing staff and student mental health crisis. So please stay tuned on ways you can participate in OEA legislative advocacy and engagement as the General Assembly returns from its summer recess in September. 

Please click here to read OEA’s summary of the as-passed version of HB 33.  You can also download the district-by-district funding spreadsheets, here, as well as those for Joint Vocational districts.

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