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How the State Budget Affects Education

The state budget Governor Kasich signed last week puts more than 19 billion dollars of state funding into Ohio schools. State GOP leaders are calling it a historic investment in education.

Overall, most schools will see more money from the state than they did last year, nearly $1 billion more. But not every district will get more money—about a third of districts won’t see any increase. And even this new money will not make up for the deep cuts in state funding for schools in 2009.

The state budget includes a new funding formula for distributing that money, one that is supposed to make sure that students in poor districts have the same resources as students in richer districts.

And as part of a bigger program of tax cuts, the budget removes a state subsidy for local school levies. The state used to pick of 12.5 percent of the cost of new or replacement levies from its general fund, which is mostly sales- and income-tax revenue.

That pick-up is going away. Without the state subsidy, supporters say, the full cost of local levies will become more transparent but that will likely make it harder for districts to sell voters on approving levies.

This state budget also expands state support for charter schools and vouchers. Charter schools, on average, are projected to receive additional state funding next year. Statewide, charters are projected to see about a 4-percent increase in state funding, about the same as traditional public schools.

And the budget expands Ohio’s existing voucher program that pays for students to attend private schools.  It used to be only students who attended low-performing schools were eligible for Ohio’s main voucher program, called EdChoice. Now they’ve created another, additional way to get an EdChoice voucher that allows children in low-income families to get vouchers, even if their local school is top-rated. It starts with kindergarteners this fall.