State Budget-Ohio

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, discusses the Senate passage of Ohio's two-year, $75 billion state budget, on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Differences in how to pay for K-12 education are expected to dominate the next stage of deliberations, with the House and Senate taking different approaches to a long-term school funding solution. The two chambers must reconcile two versions of the budget by month's end. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A plan for how Ohio pays for K-12 education that's been in the works for years remains important to members of the Ohio House, GOP Speaker Bob Cupp said Thursday, a day after the Republican-led Senate passed a state budget that uses a different school-funding approach.

The House approved its version of Ohio's two-year, $75 billion budget in April, including a proposal known as the Fair School Funding Plan developed over more than three years. Cupp was an original architect of that plan, whose goal was a sustainable funding process lasting several years.

The Senate education plan assumes a $6,110 annual base cost per student and spends about $232 million more over the next two years than the House budget. The House proposal increases the base cost to $7,203 when fully phased in over six years.

The Senate's school-funding proposal would also require that the state, not individual districts, pay charter schools directly for the first time. In addition, the Senate legislation allows public school districts to operate an online school for students, including providing free access to the internet and a computer.

That measure was an outcome of districts developing online systems during the coronavirus pandemic and wanting to continue that option.

Cupp said Thursday he's open to finding a way to keep the House plan during upcoming deliberations with the Senate over the budget's final blueprint. The two sides must strike a deal by month's end.

"The Fair School Funding plan is very important to the House," Cupp said. "This is a historic opportunity to do something important for quality education for all students in Ohio."

The House plan has the backing of Democrats and both major Ohio teachers unions, the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

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Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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