Speaker Larry Householder has followed the lead of Mike DeWine. When the governor unveiled his two-year state budget plan in March, he reiterated his view that this is a moment to invest in Ohio and Ohioans. On Thursday, the speaker presented the House version of the budget. It, too, invests, from protecting the Medicaid expansion to doubling the governor’s proposed increase in resources for abused and neglected children.

That isn’t to say the governor and the speaker have made up for a decade of disinvestment, spending in real dollars down by double-digits for such things as higher education, human services and local governments. They have moved in the right direction. They have departed from the relentless focus on tax cuts the past 15 years, the reductions largely favoring wealthier households, revenues depleted by roughly $3 billion a year.

To its credit, the House budget plan narrows the especially misguided tax break for “pass through” income from businesses. It would take the exemption from the first $250,000 in income going tax-free to the first $100,000. It also would end paying at a lower tax rate on income above the limit. This concept was sold as a boon to the state economy. Yet the actual data far from back the claim.

The House plan also calls for the elimination of a set of tax breaks, including relief for partial ownership of private jets, motion picture production and purchases of gold coins and bullion. It calls for the state to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases online, a matter of fairness for traditional operations.

Part of the additional revenue would pay for tax cuts designed to help those at the lower income rungs. Households with incomes below $22,250 a year no longer would pay state income taxes. Rates would be reduced for households making up to $88,800 annually. That is an improvement on past tax-cutting. Yet there are better ways to deploy the revenue if the aim is to elevate Ohio and Ohioans.

In many ways, the House plan reflects such an understanding. Counties would be helped significantly by the state covering the entire cost of indigent defense, freeing up dollars for other needs. The governor called for directing $550 million during the next two years to poor school districts, urban and rural, for services to counter the trauma of poverty. That includes mental health counseling, after-school programs, even access to primary health care. The House would add another $125 million.

This investment reflects how more targeted efforts can produce a greater return. For instance, a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit would bring more benefit to those at the lowest income rungs. So would access to high-quality, affordable child care, improved public transit and expanded and upgraded early education. It is good to see the House, and the governor, boost the level of need-based college aid. Yet the state would remain far short of the $250 million recommended more than a decade ago.

House Democrats, led by Emilia Sykes of Akron, deserve credit for their contribution, in particular, the change in the “pass through” tax break, their effort an example of how they are seeking to leverage the influence gained in the speaker contest. Their voices still are needed with the budget moving, likely next week, to the state Senate, where Republicans have a more commanding majority.

The instincts of the governor and the speaker are encouraging. Yet Ohio has a long way to go in executing the necessary investment strategy. It won’t be helped if the gains proposed so far are lost, or weakened, as the budget process proceeds to its conclusion in late June.