Jun 29, 2023 - News

Ohio's budget deadline approaches

Illustration of the Ohio State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

State lawmakers have until tomorrow night to pass a massive two-year budget, but they might not meet the deadline.

Why it matters: The state budget features consequential spending decisions and serves as a repository for other policies lumped into the legislation that could impact schools, law enforcement and even teens' social media usage.

State of play: Like a procrastinating essay writer, the state legislators may try to buy themselves more time to negotiate by passing a temporary spending bill.

  • It's not just the two parties at odds — Republicans could have enough votes to pass a budget without any Democrats, but there's fighting between GOP majorities in the two legislative chambers.

Here's what Republicans are trying to agree on:

ğŸŽ Education. Both chambers want to boost public school funding by varying amounts, while the Senate axed a proposed increase to the minimum teacher salary.

🏡 The social safety net. The budget invests in affordable housing, mental health care, food banks and other social programs, though senators allocate less than their House counterparts.

  • As one example, DeWine and the House propose wider eligibility for public child care support than the Senate.

💵 Tax cuts. The House wants income tax cuts for low- and middle-income Ohioans, while the Senate wants across-the-board cuts that progressive researchers say will disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

  • Legislative analysts estimate the Senate plan would cost local governments and libraries over $1.6 billion in lost tax revenue over the next two fiscal years.
  • Senators also pitch eliminating the commercial activity tax for most businesses.

What else we're watching: The fate of proposals requiring parental consent for social media users under 16 years old and lowering the minimum age of a police officer from 21 to 18.

What's next: Lawmakers will meet today and tomorrow in an attempt to reach a deal — the deadline for DeWine to sign the budget is Friday — or they can pass a stopgap spending bill and continue negotiating next week.

  • Once the budget passes, DeWine has the opportunity to veto specific items he opposes.

The most unusual budget items

We scoured the gigantic state budget proposals in search of interesting and unusual policy ideas. Here's what we found:

😬 Probably a good idea: Reestablish the requirement that crematory operators obtain a permit to perform cremations.

  • Lawmakers previously enacted a law set to end that requirement effective Dec. 31, 2024.

☀ Total eclipse of the budget: Earmark $1 million for potential emergency management costs related to the 2024 solar eclipse.

🏙 Back to the office: Limit state employees to working from home only one day per week.

💇‍♀️ Trimming the training: Reduce the initial instruction time required for those seeking barber, cosmetologist and hair designer licenses.

🏫 A quicker college experience: Study the feasibility of creating three-year bachelor's degree programs.

🚗 Buckle up: Make seat belt violations a "primary offense," meaning law enforcement can pull over a driver solely for not wearing a seat belt.

❌ No trust in trustees: Remove voting power from student members of Ohio State University's board of trustees.

👶 Baby savings: Exempt diapers, creams, wipes, car seats, cribs and strollers from sales tax collections.

💉 Rejecting vaccines: Allow college students to decline required vaccinations on campus because of medical contraindications, religious convictions or "reasons of conscience."

Reality check: The budget is not yet final. These measures can still be changed or removed entirely.

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