Morning Headlines: Lawmakers Pass $75B State Budget; Controversial Vaccine Bill Passes
Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, June 29:
- Lawmakers pass $75B state budget
- Controversial vaccine bill passes
- Gov. DeWine signs order on name, image, likeness rights for college athletes
- Cleveland mayoral primary field set
- 7,000 Aultman patients affected in data breach
- Metro RTA gets funding for electric buses
Lawmakers pass $75B state budget
With a little over a day till the deadline on Wednesday, the new two-year state budget is on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine after overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in the House and Senate late Monday evening. A surprise surplus of $3 billion more than budget forecasters predicted led to a compromise on dueling income tax cuts in two versions of the budget. The House had proposed a 2% income tax cut, with the Senate boosting that to 5%. They settled on a $1.6 billion, 3% across-the-board tax cut. The budget also eliminates all income taxes for people making under $25,000 a year and lowers the top tax bracket, plus it drops down the tax rate on the wealthiest Ohioans – those making over $110,000 a year. Senate Republicans said the surplus is going to infrastructure investments such as water quality and brownfields improvement, demolition of blighted buildings, and $250 million to broadband. The budget also eliminates the ban on municipal broadband programs that the Senate had added. A major sticking point was two different plans for school funding – a House overhaul versus the Senate’s tweaking of the current formula. The budget settles on the Fair School Funding Plan from the House, which would calculate state aid with 60% local property taxes, 40% income and would add $367 million to K-12 education over two years – though the full phase-in of the plan over six years was estimated to be at least $2 billion.
Controversial vaccine bill passes
Ohio’s public schools and universities won’t be able to require their students or employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if Gov. Mike DeWine signs a bill passed by state lawmakers Monday night. The bill bans public schools and universities from requiring vaccines that haven’t received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. All COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. have been given emergency, but not full, approval. The bill wouldn’t apply to private schools or public hospitals. The amendment was attached to House Bill 244, legislation that makes it easier for children of military families to enroll in schools.
Gov. DeWine signs order on name, image, likeness rights for college athletes
Ohio is the 18th state to allow college athletes to earn money off their name, image, and likeness. A GOP attempt to add a transgender sports ban to the bill forced Gov. Mike DeWine to sign an executive order Monday so that it can be in place before lawmakers break for the summer. It brings Ohio up to speed with more than a dozen other states who now prevent universities or college athletic conferences from punishing athletes if they are compensated based on their sports performance. Such compensation could involve anything from a book signing at a bookstore to a deal with a local restaurant.
Cleveland mayoral primary field set
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has certified candidates for the September 14 Cleveland mayoral primary. Landry Simmons was the only Republican to file petitions in the mayor’s race this year, he fell 107 names short of the 3,000 valid signatures he needed to make the ballot. That leaves the number of candidates at 7: Justin Bibb, Ross DiBello, Basheer Jones, Kevin Kelley, Dennis Kucinich, Zack Reed, and Sandra Williams. The board is also looking into voter addresses in Justin Bibb’s petitions that had been crossed out and replaced with addresses matching those on file with the board of elections. Bibb’s campaign manager says a campaign member made an “honest mistake” by correcting 70 addresses while checking them against board records. Even if the board threw those signatures out, Bibb still has enough to make the ballot.
7,000 Aultman patients affected in data breach
Thousands of Aultman Health Foundation patients may have had their private records accessed by a now-fired employee. The Canton Repository reports the former employee has been fired after accessing information including social security numbers between last September and this past April. Aultman says about 7,000 patients have been affected and is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The hospital system also has set up a toll-free call center to answer questions at 855-731-3203.
Metro RTA gets funding for electric buses
Summit County’s public transit service will purchase two electric buses with federal grant money. The Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority is getting more than $600,000 from the federal Low and No Emission Vehicle Grant Program. It supports President Joe Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.