Governor John Kasich released his biennial budget for FY 2016 and FY 2017 this week. Amongst many other policy changes and budget items, the governor continued his commitment to expanding school choice options for students in Ohio. The budget gradually extends the low-income Expansion Scholarship to third grade students, streamlines some of the EdChoice Scholarship eligibility criteria, and raises the EdChoice scholarship amount for high school students from $5000 to $5700. Auxiliary Services (which provides certain non-instructional services such as textbook rentals, and speech therapy) and Administrative Cost Reimbursement (which helps pay for some state mandated administrative requirements) funding were also increased on a similar scale to the overall K-12 education funding package.

Governor Kasich should be commended for his continued focus on ensuring that all students have the ability to receive a quality education, regardless of whether they choose to attend a public, community, or non-public school. In addition, while the actual bill has not yet been released, Agudath Israel strongly supports the governor’s stated efforts and formulaic approach to education funding which focuses on students. Ensuring opportunity has been a consistent focus of the governor, and his continued support of school choice policies recognizes that choice is an important tool towards ensuring a vibrant educational system in Ohio.

The executive budget also contains numerous other items of interest and we will review these proposals once the legislative language is released. The budget process is expected to continue until the end of June, with the Ohio House and Senate weighing in on various priorities. We will work to advance our agenda and continue to work with the legislature, administration, and state agencies throughout this process.