5 things to know about Ohio’s new budget
By Marc Kovac
By now, you’ve probably heard about Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget proposal, which includes a slight income-tax cut, a hike and broadening of the state sales tax, initiatives to support smart cars and drones and other high-tech projects and lots of other spending plans and policy changes.
The governor rolled out his executive budget late last month, and lawmakers took it up shortly thereafter.
Here are five things you should know about the budget as you try to understand what it all means:
Don’t get too excited about the specifics yet. There’s a long legislative process now under way, and the final budget legislation won’t be signed for months.
The Ohio House Finance Committee began its deliberations on the bill a couple of days after the governor unveiled his proposal.
Administration officials are providing initial testimony on the contents. Interest groups and residents will provide testimony in coming weeks, through House Finance and its various subcommittees.
The House generally moves the main budget bill sometime in April, sending it to the Senate for comparable deliberations. That chamber will have a couple of months to complete its work and make changes.
A conference committee of the two chambers then will hash out a final two-year spending plan and send it to Kasich in advance of the start of the new fiscal year July 1. The governor has line-item veto authority to strike any provisions added by lawmakers that he doesn’t support.
There will be an abundance of paperwork to read, if you’re interested in following the play by play.
The state’s Legislative Service Commission will have spreadsheets with proposed spending, agency-specific details and lots of other information, all accessible online at www.lsc.ohio.gov.
The Office of Budget and Management (online at www.obm.ohio.gov) has its own files on the biennial budget, including copies of Kasich’s initial budget proposal, all available for public inspection.
Many of those documents, plus copies of other testimony, also can be accessed during the House’s deliberations on the bill, via its Finance Committee (www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/finance).
Watching the Action
You can watch budget sessions of the Ohio House’s Finance Committee via the Ohio Channel (ohiochannel.org). The same goes for the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, which will take up budget legislation in a couple of months.
The main operating budget will receive much of the attention of lawmakers and others in coming months, but there actually are several budgets that will be moved by lawmakers, setting spending for various state agencies over the next two fiscal years.
House Finance already has started hearings on the new transportation budget, outlining spending for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Public Safety and other agencies.
Dollars and Cents
Most of the services and policies that will garner public attention and lawmaker debate are part of the state’s general-revenue fund.
For every dollar of GRF spent, about 52 cents goes to health and human services programs, according to the state’s Office of Budget and Management. A big portion of that goes to Medicaid, which provides health care and related services to the needy.
About 25 cents of every GRF dollar goes to primary and secondary schools, 8 cents goes to higher education, 8 cents goes to general government and tax relief and 7 cents goes to justice and public protection.
Also, there are three main sources of funding that make up most of the general-revenue fund: sales and use taxes, federal grants and reimbursements and income taxes.