- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

A look at some of the highlights contained in the state’s $71.2 billion, two-year operating budget headed to the desk of Ohio Gov. John Kasich:

TAXES:

- Exempts first $250,000 in small business income from the state income tax and imposes 3 percent flat rate on small business income above that amount.

- Imposes a 35-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes, while leaving tax rates on other tobacco products unchanged.

- Requires a commission studying tax policy to recommend how to transition Ohio’s personal income tax to a 3.5 or 3.75 percent flat tax by tax year 2018 and to review a proposed tax increase on oil and gas drillers.

- Provides a 75 percent income tax deduction on the first $250,000 in fiscal year 2016 and a 100 percent income tax deduction on the first $250,000 in fiscal year 2017. Filers would then be subject to a 3 percent flat tax in each fiscal year after certain thresholds are met.

K-12 EDUCATION:

- Spends $955 million more in basic state aid for K-12 schools than the last two-year period.

- Guarantees no district will fall below its fiscal year 2015 funding level.

- Provides an additional $20 million each year for student assessments.

- Requires state elementary and secondary achievement assessments to be shortened, administered once each year and given in the second half of the school year.

HIGHER EDUCATION:

- Freezes tuition rates at public two-year and four-year colleges and universities for the two years beginning in July.

- Requires institutions to propose ways to also reduce student costs by 5 percent.

- Prohibits a state university from requiring students to live in on-campus student housing if they reside within 25 miles of the school.

- Ensures that by Dec. 1, 2018, any associate degree may be transferred from one state institution of higher education to another and applied to an equivalent bachelor’s degree program without barriers.

HEALTH CARE:

- Restores funding for Medicaid coverage for pregnant women up to 200 percent of poverty and restores Medicaid coverage for breast and cervical cancer screenings.

- Seeks to create a health savings account program for some Medicaid beneficiaries, which would require federal approval.

- Requires that a “local” hospital used for emergency patient transfers from abortion clinics be no farther than 30 miles away and gives such facilities 60 days to obtain state permission to operate without such a patient-transfer agreement.

OTHER:

- Provides money for bolstering police training programs.

- Provides $12.75 million for digital electronic pollbook technology.

- Eliminate journalists’ access to concealed handgun records.

- Eliminates a requirement that consumers complete a form agreeing to take fireworks outside Ohio within 48 hours after buying them, though people still would be banned from setting them off in the state.

- Gives pay increases to judges, sheriffs and other locally elected officials.

- Eliminates special elections in February and require those asking for special elections to pre-pay 65 percent of the cost.

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SOURCE: Ohio Legislative Service Commission

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