Home Education Kasich plans to focus on funding colleges in new budget

Kasich plans to focus on funding colleges in new budget

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The state government will dedicate a total of about $5.1 billion to higher education programs over the next two years, according to Gov. John Kasich’s 2016-17 budget proposal, Blueprint for a New Ohio.

The budget would increase funding for certain financial aid sources and create a new debt reduction program, but it would also erase other programs, such as the Co-Op Internship Program.

The largest increase in higher education funding is seen in Program Series 4: Student Access, which has a proposed increase of 25.7 percent in 2016. This program funds direct student aid including grants and institutional subsidies “that help certain campuses maintain lower, more affordable tuition rates,” according to the budget.

Most existing programs’ proposed funding would only increase by a few percentage points, if at all, but the new $30 million Student Debt Reduction Program added to the proposed budget would more than make up for the stagnation.

Government spending on higher education over the two-year period is expected to increase by over $87 million, about 3.6 percent, from 2015 to 2016 and by an additional $43.8 million, approximately 1.7 percent, from 2016 to 2017. This would bring the total higher education funding for these years to $2.4 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively.

“Governor Kasich has always been committed to higher education; he sees it as a key component to Ohio’s success in a global economy,” Jeff Robinson, communications director of the Ohio Board of Regents, said in an email. “An increased investment in higher education — particularly at a time when other states are cutting their higher education budgets — supports that commitment.”

Altogether, recommended funding for higher education would account for 3.7 percent of the total state budget over the next two years.

“The mission when it comes to higher education has largely remained the same: getting degrees and credentials in the hands of more Ohioans in less time and at less cost,” Robinson said. “This budget continues to look at ways to reduce the cost of higher education.”

The majority of the programs under the Department of Higher Education are funded by the General Revenue Fund (GRF), which consists of state revenue from sources such as income, sales and corporate franchise taxes and is the “primary operating fund of the state,” according to the Office of Budget Management.

Kasich’s budget proposal would also provide over $500 million in tax cuts, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. This would mostly involve cutting income taxes and would instead raise revenue for the GRF by increasing sales, oil and cigarette taxes.

“Generally speaking, an increased investment in higher education is an increased investment in our students and the work that they do after high school to prepare them for their career,” Robinson said. “It is our hope that a greater investment in our students will lead to even greater students and an even stronger workforce.”

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