Earlier this morning, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law HB 166, the state’s biennial budget, just a few hours after a 17-day temporary budget extension expired. HB 166 spells out how the state will spend $69.8 billion over the next two years.
By putting his signature on the bill, the governor put an end to a budget process that began back in March and was contentious throughout. The legislative debate over HB 166 involved significant disagreement between the House and Senate on a variety of policy issues – disagreements that required 17 days of overtime to resolve. Most significant among these disagreements was the fate of the business income deduction (BID), which the House originally sought to scale back substantially. The House plan would have raised taxes on small business owners who utilize the BID by $528 million annually.
The end result, however, is – other than one late change discussed below – the BID will remain fully intact. This is a huge victory for Ohio small business owners. Protecting this important tax policy encourages them to reinvest back into their companies, and preserving it was the Ohio Chamber’s top priority throughout the budget process.
From the time the House first proposed scaling back the BID, the Ohio Chamber argued that no changes whatsoever were necessary. Disappointingly, a change added the day before the bill was passed excludes lawyers and lobbyists from utilizing the BID. The Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Lobbying Association urged Gov. DeWine to veto this provision, which he ultimately did not do. Now, it is very likely that this change singling out lawyers and lobbyists will face a legal challenge.
The governor did, however, exercise his line item veto authority, striking 25 provisions from the nearly 4,000 page bill. Many were related to the Medicaid program, and only one related to an issue in which the Ohio Chamber was directly involved. We supported the bill’s approach to protecting consumers from the burden of costly, surprise bills after they receive care from an out-of-network provider they reasonably assumed was in their network. This issue will likely now receive legislative attention in a stand-alone bill, and the Ohio Chamber will continue to advocate for a meaningful solution.