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Week in Review: June 6, 2021

Written on Jun 4, 2021

FY22-23 BUDGET

The Senate GOP's version of the FY22-23 budget, HB110 (Oelslager), would reduce income taxes by 5% across the board, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) announced Tuesday. Other tax reform provisions in the budget include exempting employment services and placement services from the sales tax, repealing the campaign contribution tax credit starting in tax year 2021 and extending the pandemic-related work-from-home municipal income tax provisions included in 133-HB197 (Powell-Merrin) until Dec. 31, 2021 although individuals can file for a refund in tax years 2021 and 2020.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Work to improve Ohio's defense manufacturing processes is continuing, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Wednesday in a release, following a previous Department of Defense designation of the state as a Defense Manufacturing Community. Partners including the Development Services Agency (DSA) have been working with two companies to improve productivity and efficiency at their facilities, according to the release, and the goal of the three-year project is to help implement advanced manufacturing technology and create a more skilled workforce for at least 26 small and medium-sized defense manufacturers.

ECONOMY

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation released its first "Prosperity Pulse" survey for 2021 at the end of May, finding there has been "continued economic improvement" for businesses but concerns remain about "further disruption and hiring woes." The prosperity pulse index rose to 112 -- an improvement from the fourth quarter 2020 reading of 93.8 -- but still trails pre-pandemic levels in 2018 and 2019. The index previously hit its lowest recorded level of 51 in Q1 of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

For the week ending May 29, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 13,955 initial unemployment claims to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). That number is slightly higher than last week, when the department reported 13,661 new jobless claims.

FEDERAL

Guidance released by the U.S. Department of Treasury this week puts the decision on Ohio townships' eligibility for direct local government funding under the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act in the state's hands. Three Ohio townships were previously deemed eligible by dint of having populations above 50,000 but the status of the other 1,305 Ohio townships had been unclear in the language of the ARP until the release of the guidance.

GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohio could become a North American leader in the multibillion-dollar esports industry if lawmakers choose to regulate and license competitive video game facilities through SB176 (Antani-Manning), Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) Chief Financial Officer Dan Marks said Wednesday. The committee also heard from Jonah Blake, chief gaming officer of Game Fund Partners Inc., and Anthony Teresi, representing electronic table game manufacturer company I-Gaming and E-bingo Equipment.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

While most health orders ended Wednesday, June 2, Ohioans should still be taking measures to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, most notably by getting vaccinated, the state's top physician and colleagues treating the youngest and oldest patients said Wednesday. More than 5.3 million Ohioans have been vaccinated so far, a rate of about 45%, substantially below the 62.8 percent reported nationally by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the lag, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health, said he's "far from discouraged" about vaccination progress and noted that it would be premature to draw conclusions from recent days' data because of the holiday weekend.

WORKFORCE

The TechCred program has now passed 23,000 approved credentials, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday. This comes around eight months after the announcement it had exceeded the first-year goal of funding 10,000 credentials. Applications for the eighth round -- which saw changes to the program -- were accepted in April, resulting in approval of 310 Ohio employers and 3,882 tech credentials. In total, 1,310 businesses and 23,723 credentials have been approved for funding under the program. The latest round included applications from 124 small businesses requesting credentials, the highest number for a round thus far.