If a substitute bill is accepted, the Olentangy School District could receive $1.8 million more than what Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan initially endorsed.
Rep. Andrew Brenner said that the new plan he endorsed would put a cap on the losses districts like Olentangy would face. Instead of a 44 percent cut as proposed in Kasich’s proposal, the maximum cut of the new plan would be 20 percent.
Whereas Olentangy would receive $6.3 million in state aid and reimbursements in fiscal year 12 under Kasich’s proposed budget, it would receive $8.1 million under the new plan, Brenner said.
The new plan would especially benefit Olentangy in the area where it was not expecting to see cuts — the accelerated elimination of tangible personal property (TPP) tax reimbursement.
The TPP tax was once collected from businesses, who paid a percentage of the value of furniture, equipment, inventory, and other property that was neither land or building. The money would fund school districts, among other entities.
This tax was no longer collected after 2009, yet the state agreed to make PPT reimbursements.
“That’s the part that is now in some jeopardy with the budget bill,” said Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa.
Considering Kasich’s proposed “accelerated” phase out of PPT reimbursement, Olentangy Treasurer Rebeccas Jenkins said that Olentangy faces a $2.6 million loss.
“No district in Ohio was expecting to lose that money,” said Olentangy School Board President Julie Wagner Feasel.
The proposal is considered to be disproportionally damaging to districts, like Olentangy, that the state considers wealthy.
Wagner Feasel explained that this distinction is made on property values, not the district’s own finances.
She said that “a lot of times we are ignored,” because the state believes that Olentangy does not need state funding as much as other districts.
Yet the need is there, Wagner Feasel said.
Jenkins said that the district’s cost per pupil was already $962 less than the state average. She added that the district would lose an additional $288 per pupil from the accelerated phase out of TPP reimbursement.
While Jenkins testified Olentangy’s need for state funding to the House Subcommittee, Wagner Feasel said she and board member Scott Galloway met with Brenner.
Brenner worked with Rep. Nan Baker, who communicated with the Solon district, as “outspoken” advocates of the new bill.
The proposed budget would be “penalizing the school districts that are doing a good job, relative to other school districts – that are more cost-efficient than others in the state,” said Brenner.
Brenner said the substitute plan “takes into consideration districts that are growing.”
“It’s important that everybody share in the cuts,” Brenner continued. “But it’s important that some districts aren’t cut immensely.”
“Given the cost per pupil, I think it’s fair,” he said of the new bill.
This amendment was one of 1,600 that were submitted, Brenner said. While it has not been officially introduced as part of the proposed state budget, it was accepted at a caucus meeting.
The new plan and the proposed budget still have to pass through the House Finance Committee and the Senate before made official.
In the meantime, Wager Feasel encouraged people to participate in the district’s letter-writing campaign to Brenner and Rep. Jim Jordan.