With just under a month until the state’s FY 18/19 operating budget must be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, the Ohio Chamber is keeping an eye on certain provisions. The “as introduced” version of Governor Kasich’s budget (H.B. 49) contains many of the same policy objectives that we have seen in prior budgets. However, there are some provisions that have flown under the radar that are unique to this budget and have the potential to greatly benefit employers in the area of workforce development.
The original version of the budget contained several budget-neutral workforce development provisions and below are a couple items added by the House:
- The Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program was partially restored as the governor’s proposal had zeroed out the line item. This program provides matching dollars to employers that wish to provide training to their employees thereby enhancing their career path. Restoration of funding to this program is one of the Ohio Chamber’s public policy priorities.
- An appropriation was added to the budget which would allow students enrolled in short-term certificate programs to be eligible for Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). Currently, only students in traditional credit-bearing two and four-year programs are eligible for this grant. Access to these grant dollars may be the difference between individuals entering or not entering into certificate programs. Importantly, many of these short-term certificate programs provide pathways towards the attainment of in-demand jobs.
With only small price tags attached, the Ohio Chamber is hopeful that the above provisions find support in the Senate and remain part of H.B. 49.
In addition to the budget, there are a handful of stand-alone bills which are heavily focused on improving collaboration between educators and employers. In large part, these bills do not cost the state or local entities a dime. For instance:
- Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 166 – These bills are companion pieces of legislation that revise workforce development laws in the state. The Ohio Chamber testified in support of certain provisions contained within the legislation this past April in the Senate, and once again this week in the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
- House Bill 98 – A bill that states, no local school boards shall impose a restriction on representatives of employers, trades and institutions of higher education from providing career information to students. The Ohio Chamber testified in support of this legislation earlier in the year but it has yet to receive another hearing in the House Education and Career Readiness Committee.
It is clear that the governor and current legislature understand the importance of addressing the workforce needs across the state. As the state’s leading business advocate, the Ohio Chamber hopes to work alongside all interested parties in this effort.