After more than a month of deliberations, the Ohio House passed its version of the state budget after making a series of changes to the proposal offered earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich. Lawmakers passed H.B. 153 along party lines, with House Republicans supporting the bill. The bill included a repeal of the Ohio Estate Tax, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
“The budget is still a work in progress, so we look forward to working with the Senate as debate continues on the bill,” said Beth Vanderkooi, OFBF director of state policy.
The Senate will begin debate on the bill in the coming days. OFBF has launched a campaign to keep the repeal of the estate tax in the state budget, and is urging farmers to contact their representatives to talk about the impact the estate tax has on family farmers.
As part of an effort to address a budget gap of as much as $8 billion, the governor’s budget had proposed overall reductions to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by about 8.8 percent, reductions to Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Extension programs of 10 percent and reductions to Soil and Water Conservation District funding of slightly more than 30 percent. The proposed budget maintained flat-line funding for the 5th Quarter program, an agricultural education grant program.
The House-passed version of the budget included several key policies supported by Ohio Farm Bureau including:
- Funding for food safety and other priorities at the Ohio Department of Agriculture
- Increased funding for OARDC and Extension programs; FY 12/13 spending restored to approximately 99 percent of FY11 for both programs
- Restored funding for Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts by reinstating tipping and scrap tire fees that currently fund SWCDs, which under current law were set to expire on June 30. Restored funding will place SWCDs at FY11 levels
- Maintained funding for Ohio’s agricultural education and 5th Quarter programs
- Increased flexibility for local governments to pursue shared services and consolidation.