Calling all advocates! It’s that time again… Ohio’s biennial (2-year) budget process is upon us. As you may know, Ohio operates on a two-year budget cycle with its fiscal year (FY) running from July 1 through June 30 of the following year. The main operating budget is one of the most critical advocacy opportunities we have because it sets policy and allocates the state's financial resources for the coming two years. There are more than 60 agencies that receive funding allocations through the operating budget including some of Ohio’s largest investments in education, Medicaid, health and human services. As the Ohio General Assembly prepares to evaluate thousands of competing spending priorities amid a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever for early childhood advocates to be engaged in the process.
So, what should you expect? The budget process typically lasts about six months and begins in January of the odd-numbered year (or budget year). The Governor works with the Office of Budget and Management and the Ohio Legislative Service Commission to draft a budget proposal that is introduced as the Executive Budget Bill in the House of Representatives in early February. Throughout the months of February and March, the House of Representatives holds committee hearings and introduces amendments to the Executive Budget Bill, the House Finance committee reports the bill out of committee, and the entire House of Representatives votes and passes the House version of the budget bill. After the House passes their version of the budget bill it is then introduced in the Senate where, from April to May, it undergoes a similar process to that of the House.
During the month of June, the House and the Senate hold a Conference Committee. The Conference Committee is a temporary committee made up of appointed members from both chambers that meet to negotiate and reconcile the differences between their respective versions of the budget bill. Once the Conference Committee completes its negotiations, the Committee reports the reconciled version, the House and Senate vote to pass the budget bill and it is sent to the Governor. The Governor can sign, veto, or sign with line-item vetoes. In the case of line-item vetoes, these items are sent back to the House and Senate with an explanation of each veto. A three-fifths majority vote of both chambers is required to override each veto.
June 30th is the deadline to pass the operating budget, however, the process may be complete prior to that deadline. With rare exception, including in FY 20-21, the deadline was not reached and an emergency order went into place for a short time to keep state government operating until the budget was ultimately passed. The main operating budget goes into effect on July 1st and the new fiscal year begins.
Stay connected during the budget process and make sure your voice is heard on issues that impact young children and families in Ohio by signing up for our newsletter here. We look forward to keeping you up to date on young children and families at every step of the way during the budget deliberations, and most importantly, how you can easily engage in budget advocacy with our support.
Learn more about Groundwork Ohio’s budget advocacy and policy priorities here.