Every two years, the state of Ohio adopts its main operating budget, legislation that requires the partnership of the Governor’s administration, the Ohio General Assembly, state agencies, and local governments. The state budget comes in a package of appropriations bills, which are vetted through both the House and Senate Finance committees, available for viewing at www.ohiochannel.org. As outlined by the Ohio Constitution, no appropriation can be made for a period longer than two years, and the budget must be balanced.
But how does the budget process work? The process is complex, detail-oriented, and lengthy, dictating much of the legislature’s attention for several months at the beginning of each general assembly. The state budget is critical, however, for each individual Ohioan, as it funds roads, public education, workers’ compensation, prisons, and much more. As the process begins, the Governor’s office receives budget requests from agencies and local governments and works with the Office of Budget and Management to consider the requests and formulate recommendations to send to the legislature.
By the end of January, the House receives the Governor’s proposal and gets to work. Through the Finance Committee and its various subcommittees, the overall state revenue and its expenditures are considered in order to fund a variety of departments and agencies that serve Ohioans. From health and human services to higher education, the state operating budget process balances costs to ensure that the government functions efficiently and effectively.
From the House, the budget bills are sent to the Senate for further review, which usually occurs in April. As legislators, it is important that as we deliberate on the needs of Ohioans and deliver funding where it is not only necessary but sensible, we also keep in mind that at the end of the day we are responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. When the Senate finishes its work, leaders from both chambers come together in conference to reconcile differences in the bills and to pass the final, agreed upon versions. This typically takes place in June, before the current fiscal year expires. The Governor then signs the legislation, keeping in mind the ability to veto certain parts upon which he might disagree.
In a nutshell, this is the process that your state legislature will be heavily involved with over the next few months. The state operating budget is a critical component of our jobs during each legislative term, and we strive to strike a balance between providing assistance and funding where needed and limited government interference. Our role is to enact policies that encourage a healthy economic outlook for Ohio’s families and that direct our state’s future success while maintaining fiscally conservative values. Keep in mind that your opinion matters throughout this process, so always feel free to check in with my office if you need more information on the budget or if you have a question on the process.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.