Lawmakers slash personal income taxes in state budget deal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio would cut personal income taxes by 4%, keep a debated business tax break and change how pharmacy benefits are administered for Medicaid users to boost transparency and control those costs under a proposed two-year state budget passed Tuesday by a conference committee.

The Republican-led House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure Wednesday, hours before the extended deadline for passing the $69 billion spending plan. GOP Gov. Mike DeWine can veto provisions he doesn't approve.

The state has been operating under a 17-day temporary budget this month since the Legislature missed the original deadline for the first time since 2009. Meanwhile, lawmakers have been hashing out differences between the House and Senate versions, including provisions about taxes, health care policies and education-related funding.

The compromise reached after weeks of negotiation settles on a smaller income tax cut than previously proposed , eliminates the bottom two tax brackets and retains a debated $250,000 business tax break that DeWine favored keeping, though lobbyists and lawyers will now be excluded from that.

The agreement would push back Ohio's 2020 primary election to March 17, St. Patrick's Day — a change that drew objections from Democratic lawmakers concerned that the unofficial holiday would hinder voting.

The deal would provide $550 million for educational wraparound services as DeWine proposed , and additional funding for private-school scholarships and fast-growing school districts whose funding has been capped.

It also would direct $100 million to pharmacies to compensate for low reimbursements and have the Department of Medicaid contract directly with one pharmacy benefit manager, instead of working through multiple PBMs and managed care plans.