At the end of June, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that will invest $2.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into Ohio’s future. House Bill 168 addresses some of the most fundamental responsibilities that we share as public servants — the health of our children and the economic strength of our state,” DeWine said.
The largest expenditure item, $1.5 billion, will be used to pay off the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund loan to the federal government. By doing so, DeWine said Ohio businesses “won’t experience large increases in their federal unemployment payroll taxes, and instead can focus on investing this money in their businesses and employees.”
The signing of this legislation was welcome news for farmers and agribusinesses, according to Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau.
“This bill will help employers avoid costly increases in payments into the unemployment compensation fund to help pay off our state’s federal debt,” Kern said. “Now we need to focus on solving the structural shortcomings of the fund to avoid this situation in the future.”
The bill was sponsored by State Reps. Mark Fraizer (R-Newark) and Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta). DeWine also signed House Bill 75, which appropriates budget funding for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation over the 2022-2023 biennium.
House Bill 168 includes the following:
- Invests $84 million in a pediatric behavioral health initiative administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Funds will increase Ohio’s capacity for youth behavioral health services and increase access and quality of care across all regions of the state.
- Invests $250 million to establish a water and sewer quality program administered by the Ohio Department of Development. The program will provide grants to identify and invest in Ohio’s most critical infrastructure needs.
- Invests $422 million in more than 2,000 local governments in Ohio that have yet to receive direct funding from the federal government to support recovery from the pandemic.
- Repays a loan of approximately $1.5 billion to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund that was needed during the pandemic to pay unemployment benefits. Prompt repayment of this loan will prevent Ohio businesses from experiencing large increases in their federal unemployment payroll taxes.