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House Passes Budget With Questions Over Whether It Is Balanced

Andy Chow
Ohio House gathers in session to pass the budget bill in the Ohio Statehouse.

The state budget bill is heading over to the Senate for another round of hearings after passing through the House. But there seems to be questions over if the plan as it stands now is balanced.

House Republicans are touting their version of the budget as a proposal that decreases spending growth in several places, keeps taxes stable, and invests $170 million more in the opioid crisis.

Above all else, the state constitution requires the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget which the House did according to Republican Speaker Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville.

“We passed a fiscally balanced budget with the numbers that we have to look at and those numbers are going to change and this is a process and come conference committee we’ll have another different look at it that’s going to have different numbers and that’s still going to have a balanced budget.”

Kasich said the budget needed to be trimmed by $800 million. Some estimates say Senators will have to cut another $400 million to bring the budget into balance. Democratic House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn of Dayton isn’t convinced it’s balanced. He believes the state could use some of the $2 billion in the rainy day fund to lighten the load, and likened Ohio’s economy to a car.

“Not just take your foot off the gas and coast into a recession but maybe put the brakes on that. If we don’t use the budget stabilization fund to stabilize our budget, Mr. Speaker, it is my belief that we will make the Ohio economy worse,” said Strahorn.

The budget also requires the Kasich administration seek approval from the state Controlling Board to spend Medicaid expansion money every six months. Kasich’s office says part of a balanced budget is having a healthy workforce, which is strengthened by Medicaid expansion, and a Kasich spokesperson says that’s why that amendment is troubling.

The bill now moves to the Senate where committees have already started informal hearings.

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