At the beginning of each general assembly, every odd-numbered year, the Ohio House and Senate undertake a monumental task—the biennial state operating budget. Through this package of bills, the legislature allocates the state’s financial resources with consideration of thousands of funding priorities. This year, the budget process has recently begun and will take several months before the final bills are agreed upon and signed by Governor Kasich. Because of the importance of this process, I’d like to take a moment to break down the ins and outs of the state budget process.
The process begins long before any legislation is introduced, as the Governor’s office accumulates budget requests from state agencies and local governments to fund their operations for the upcoming fiscal years. For this budget cycle, recommendations are made for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, with fiscal year 2018 beginning on July 1, 2017. From these requests and considering other data like the general revenue fund and spending predictions, the Governor’s office works with the Office of Budget and Management to formulate the Governor’s executive budget proposal.
Traditionally, the Governor’s budget proposal comes in a package of four policy areas, the main operating, transportation, workers’ compensation, and industrial commission budgets. The legislation is first considered in the Ohio House, required to be submitted by the Governor by late January. Already this year, the House Finance Committee has begun consideration of these proposals. Additionally, the Finance Committee is made up of subcommittees that focus on particular aspects of the state budget, like transportation and higher education. The House is typically on track to pass each bill and send to the Senate for deliberation in March or April.
From there, the Senate does further review and makes its own changes, based on the various streams of revenue and the needs of the state. Balancing the funding needs and priorities of an array of competing entities is a task in itself—every agency and community needs money and resources to operate at the highest effectiveness and quality in order to serve Ohioans. After the Senate passes its version of the budget package, the two chambers conference on the legislation to agree upon a final version to send to the Governor. The Governor must then sign the bills by June 30, before the current fiscal year ends.
The budget process is inherently collaborative—a team effort of input from the legislature, the administration, state agencies, local governments, and a variety of other interested parties. But such an endeavor requires careful and thoughtful discussion as it is our goal as legislators to be responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. As we delve further into the budget over the upcoming weeks, I welcome your input and encourage you to reach out to my office with any ideas or questions.