Why the Budget Matters
Budgets are moral documents and set the priorities of communities. In Ohio, we go through the budget process every 2 years.
Social programs such as hunger programs,
Building healthy homes and communities,
Workers Compensation needs,
Strengthening our schools, providing opportunities for children,
Improve healthcare for everyone,
Prisons and criminal justice.
The Budget: 4 Budgets in One
Transportation (HB74): approximately 6% of all state budgets
Bureau of Workers Compensation (HB75):less than 1%
Industrial Commission (HB76): agency outside General Revenue Fund (GRF), less than 1%
It’s an odd-numbered year in Ohio and that means we will soon see a state budget proposed by Governor Mike DeWine, the first budget of his second term.
Every two years, the governor releases budget recommendations and the General Assembly takes the first half of the year to consider the proposal and develop its own versions of a budget for the state.
By June 30, the General Assembly must present a budget bill to the governor to sign. The budget bill identifies funding priorities, but ultimately spells out policy priorities of the governor and General Assembly.
Budget #1: “As Introduced” Budget
Governor DeWine will release his budget recommendations, or the executive budget, by January 31st.
This budget is presented in what is known as the “Blue Book.”
The administration may also release fact sheets or white papers highlighting select policy proposals, as they did in 2019 and 2021. The governor’s budget is known as the “As Introduced” budget.
Budget #2: House Budget, February-Mid April
The legislative budget process begins in the House Finance Committee.
In past years different parts of the bill are assigned to House Finance subcommittees based on topic, for example, the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services traditionally hears testimony on the budgets for the Departments of Aging, Developmental Disabilities, Health, Job and Family Services and Medicaid (among others).
Senate Finance Committee
Budget #3: Senate Budget, Late April – Mid June
The budget process in the Senate has been different in each of the last few budget cycles and it could change yet again this year.
Like the House, the substitute bill begins in the Senate Finance committee. For the 134th General Assembly, Senate President Matt Huffman shifted away from a Finance subcommittee process and rather the full Finance Committee heard from state agency directors, as well as testimony from stakeholders on the potential impact of the budget. The committee then considered additional changes and amendments to the bill before it was voted out of committee and moved to the Senate floor.
While we have not yet heard the process for this budget cycle, we know that Senate President Huffman has added two new standing Senate committees, one focused on Medicaid chaired by Sen. Mark Romanchuk (R) and the other on community revitalization chaired by Sen. Terry Johnson (R) and Sen. Matt Dolan (R) remains the chair of the Senate Finance committee.
Reconciling: Conference Committee, June
There will be differences between the House-passed and the Senate-passed versions of the budget and a conference committee is required to reconcile these differences.
Select members, typically from the House and Senate Finance committees, are named to the Conference Committee.
These deliberations largely take place without public input.
The committee develops a final version of the bill and once the bill is voted on by the committee, it goes back to both the House and Senate to concur with the final changes.
Final Budget Bill Goes Back to Governor
Once the House and Senate agree on and approve a final budget, it goes to the governor for his signature.
Any provision in any bill that includes appropriations can be line-item vetoed by the governor. This means he can strike out any portion of the bill while approving the rest of it. He cannot add to or change the bill through line-item vetoes.
The budget bill must be signed by June 30 for the appropriations to take effect on July 1, the first day of the new state fiscal year.
Agencies and Departments have been submitting their budgets since September 2022
90 Agency budget requests have been filed
Public primary and secondary (K-12) education makes up the largest share of state spending, at 42.8%. Public education ensures Ohioans of all walks of life have the knowledge and experience required to participate in our democracy and in the workforce. It allows young people to pursue their dreams and prepares new generations of doctors and nurses, community leaders, engineers, electricians and the rest of our workforce. Plus, public schools employ teachers, administrators and other staff, creating jobs for working people all over the state. It’s no wonder that we give education top priority in our state budget.
In the current budget — which ends June 30, 2023 — Ohio’s K-12 education system fares better than it has in decades. That’s because a coalition of teachers, parents, students, union members, administrators and advocates from all over the state pushed for the Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP), and forced lawmakers to listen. The FSFP improves Ohio’s school funding formula, the method lawmakers use to determine how much funding each school will receive, to make it more fair for all kids in all public schools. However, the plan will take six years to make up for years of underfunding — and lawmakers only funded the first two. So, in the upcoming budget debates, we’re coming together again to fully fund the FSFP, so every kid in Ohio, regardless of their ZIP code, can attend a great public school.
Focus on the General Revenue Fund
As advocates, we’re likely to have the most impact on the part of the budget called the General Revenue Fund (GRF). It’s where nearly all our state taxes go.
While there are other state budgets, such as one for transportation, the GRF is the largest. It is the major source of funding for state agencies and thus for many of the programs, services and departments that help — or have the potential to help — all Ohioans do better.
As enacted, Ohio’s GRF for Fiscal Years 2022-2023, which begin on July 1 of each year, contains $74 billion.
The income tax is the only tax that varies depending on ability to pay: Those who have higher incomes pay more in taxes, and those with lower incomes pay less. It’s the fairest way for taxes to work, but most aren’t set up that way. Instead, Ohio lawmakers have been changing the tax code to increasingly rely on taxes that require people with less money to pay a higher share of their income than people with more. Sales tax is the biggest example: Everyone pays the same sales tax rate, but affluent people, unlike many regular Ohioans, don’t spend most of their income just covering the basics of daily life, and more of what they spend isn’t covered by the sales tax.
Since 2005, Ohio’s lawmakers have made the GRF less reliant on the income tax and more reliant on the sales tax, as shown in Figure 3. Those changes do even more to help the wealthy, at the expense the Ohio households with incomes under $65,000 who are, on average, paying more than they were 17 years ago.
Ohio's GRF is mostly funded by sales & income taxes
Sources of revenue in Ohio's GRF for FY 2023
Pie chart showing the various sources of revenue in Ohio's GRF for FY 2023. Sales tax accounts for 48% and Income tax another 36%.
Cigarette and Other Tobacco (3.1%)
Commercial Activity (7%)
Chart: Policy Matters Ohio Source: Ohio Office of Budget & Management, Monthly Financial Report, August 2022, p. 30 Get the data Created with Datawrapper
Areas that impact voting/ voting administration
Fair School Funding – Support for public schools
State Board of Education / Dept. of Education