Ohio's Budget for Dummies...Part 1

Do you remeber the Book Series "Windows for Dummies"? Here is our version for the State Budget.


Ohio's Future Foundation is kicking off another series to educate Ohioans on what is going on in the state, and how the political system actually works -- we want our members to be armed with facts, not fiction. For starters, if you aren't familiar with the state operating budget (we will refer to it as 'the budget') and all its ins-and-outs, you are no dummy! It is an extremely complex and extensive bill that even seasoned political veterans can struggle to keep pace with.

With the introduction of Governor DeWine’s first budget proposal, we are going to dip our toes in the water before diving in the deep end. This bill, mandated by the Ohio Constitution (Article II, Section 22) comes with dozens upon dozens of new proposals of how we should run the state, but it begs the question, how does Ohio pay for these services and at what cost to Ohioans? Let's get down to business.

Part 1 of “Ohio's Budget for Dummies” is going to explore the basics of the budget process before taking a deeper dive into the nuances that make headlines. As a newly elected Governor, Mike DeWine’s first budget proposal must be in the hands of the General Assembly by March 15th, as required by law.  Even though this is when the budget must be introduced, the process begins well before it is in legislators’ hands. After the Governor shares his budget proposal within his cabinet, the process truly starts when local governments and state agencies make “wish list” requests for the Governor’s review. These "wishes" are typically for financial support or priority issues agencies would like to have passed into law. The catch is they are typically made out of the public eye, and the majority never make it into the Governor's initial proposal.

From there, it will move on to the House, where it will be reviewed in the House Finance Committee. In recent years, the budget has been broken down into separate subcommittees, such as healthcare, higher education, etc., but it is yet to be seen if the newly elected Speaker, Larry Householder, will follow this same process.

Once it passes out of the House, usually sometime in late April or early May, it will go to the Senate where they follow a similar process. The media will have already latched onto some of the hot-button and controversial topics by this point, which lends more scrutiny by the Senate.

Once the Senate has reviewed and made changes to the budget, the items in the bill that the two chambers disagree on will be resolved in conference committee, where key policy makers will pick-and-choose components they agree on. Ultimately, this is where the most significant decisions are made between the chambers before it is sent to the Governor. Conference committee is always obscured from the public eye, but keen lobbyists and advocates find out who will serve on conference committee and make last minute efforts to ensure their policy remains in tact.

Once the budget is in the hands of the Governor, he has the opportunity to veto specific line items the make appropriations within the bill (Note: he cannot veto items without appropriations attached, and must provide a sound explanation for any line item veto he makes). The legislature also has the power to override any veto the Governor makes with a three-fifths majority. The Governor is then required to sign the budget bill into law by June 30th, 2019.

With the budget being the most dominant legislative initiative of the state, we will be keeping our members updated on its progress. As we continue on our series, we will delve into aspects of the budget often left out of the papers, and help break down some of the more complex issues that the budget brings up. Make sure to keep up on our newsletters, and recommend your friends join so they can learn the truth about what is going on around Ohio.

As always, feel free to let us know what you would like to learn about the budget!

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