The final two-year state budget bill HB 153 signed by Gov. John Kasich last night leaves the Solon Schools with a much-improved fiscal outlook from when the budget process began four months ago. Although the district will still lose $1.279 million a year in tangible personal property reimbursement this year and again next year, the remaining $8.4 million in annual reimbursements for lost TPP tax revenues is now preserved under the new law.
When the governor released his budget proposal in April, the district faced combined losses from state foundation aid and tangible personal property tax reimbursements of more than $2.6 million a year and a cumulative impact of $54 million over the next 8.5 years. That cumulative impact is now reduced to approximately $22 million over that same time.
“We really accomplished something great with the outcome of this budget,” said Solon Schools’ Superintendent Joe Regano. “All of our work through lobbying and the intensive grassroots contact campaign was without a doubt the reason our financial picture under this two-year budget is 180 degrees from what we were looking at in April. We absolutely could not have done this without the support and engagement of our community. The efforts of our citizens in helping to demonstrate the devastating impact of the proposed cuts were invaluable.”
Also key was the support the district received from State Rep. Marlene Anielski and Sen. Tom Patton, Mr. Regano explained. “We could not have asked for better representation during this budget process,” he said. Rep. Anielski and Sen. Patton, along with Rep. Nan Baker, who represents West Side districts, took the time to learn about the history of the TPP reimbursement issue and the impact eliminating that reimbursement would have had on districts they represent. “They understood the complexities of the issue and worked hard to achieve a fair compromise. The result is a shared sacrifice that reflects the difficult economic times Ohio is facing.”
In addition to the halting of the TPP phase-out after this biennium, the legislature restored the proposed cuts in state foundation funding, which for Solon amounted to more than $2 million.
“Although it will not be easy, we will be able to weather these cuts,” Mr. Regano said. “For the upcoming year, we reduced 25 positions and our employees have stepped up and accepted pay freezes and benefit changes in their new contracts. We have also continued to implement efficiencies wherever we can to reduce our overall expenditure slope.”
Mr. Regano cautioned, however, that the district and the community will need to stay vigilant regarding the TPP reimbursement issue. “The new law halts the phase-out, but we will undoubtedly need to protect this reimbursement in future state budget cycles.”