Ohio's State Budget Process: Think Locally, Act Locally

March 5, 2019 by DRO Policy Analyst Jordan Ballinger / state budget

Every two years the State of Ohio goes through a budget process that deeply impacts the lives of everyday Ohioans. This year Governor Mike DeWine is required to release his budget by March 15. The entire process occurs between the March 15 deadline and June 30, as the state constitution requires a new budget to start July 1. That means a lot of changes occur within a short timeframe, but Disability Rights Ohio will be following the entire process to ensure everyone has the information they need to be effective self-advocates.

Make Your Voice Heard During the Budget Process

The budget goes through both the House and Senate as a bill before being signed by the governor. Since the budget is large and complex, the Finance Committees in both chambers divide the budget among several subcommittees, which will then have several hearings on their respective subjects. For instance, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services budget would be assigned to the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. This is important because this is where the public and self-advocates have the opportunity to make their voices heard.

During these subcommittee hearings, individuals will be able to provide testimony to legislators explaining the importance of various programs and services. For instance, during the subcommittee hearings, individuals could provide testimony on the importance of their home health aides in ensuring their ability to live and work in the community.
After changes are made to the budget in the subcommittees, the bill receives additional hearings in the full Finance Committee, where legislators will add additional amendments and provide a substitute bill that will be voted on by the entire committee. For instance, the Education Subcommittee could decide to increase funding for Early Childhood Education. This would be debated by the entire Finance Committee and, if agreed upon, added to the substitute bill.

Final Votes

This substitute bill then goes to the entire House for further deliberation and a vote. This process occurs both in the House and Senate. The budget then enters into conference committee, where both chambers appoint a select few members and final changes are made to the budget that both chambers can agree on. For example, the House may determine the need to increase funding for public transportation, but the Senate might decide to reduce funding. Both chambers would meet in conference committee and compromise on either increasing or reducing funding to public transportation. Once all changes have been made and both chambers vote on the final bill, the budget heads to the governor’s office for vetoes and to be signed.

While it is difficult to weigh in as an advocate during the conference committee timeframe, once the budget reaches the governor’s desk, he can veto specific parts. This is called a “line item veto.” During this time, although it is still short, you can call or write the governor and ask him to veto anything you feel is important to remove.

Want to Know More about the Budget Process?

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For even more information and resources on the budget process, the budget bill, and how to contact your legislator, follow these links:

Budget Process in Brief
Ohio House
Ohio Senate
Legislative Service Commission Budget Central

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