The Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate are still negotiating the biennium budget, House Bill 166. Conference Committee members continued meeting Friday and Saturday before the looming Sunday deadline.
One state representative who wished to remain anonymous told The Ohio Star that the House is planning to meet Sunday evening to consider the budget situation. “The temporary (continuing resolution) versus the permanent (budget bill) is still up in the air,” the representative said.
State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Mt. Lookout) confirmed that he was told “to be present at 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening to consider the budget situation.”
Statehouse news sources were abuzz with the possibility of a budget impasse.
The House had scheduled sessions for Friday and Saturday but canceled both. A Senate session was also canceled on Friday, then rescheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m., and then canceled again.
“We have a constitutional requirement to pass the budget by June 30 and that is what we hope will happen,” House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) told Gongwer. “Our members will be here, and they will be ready to work to make sure that we make that deadline. We’ll work with the members of the majority and the other chamber and the governor’s office to make sure that we get this budget passed on time.”
Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) confirmed that language had been drafted that would allow Ohio’s government to continue operating for two weeks while the House and Senate work to iron out their differences.
Keeping the government open with temporary funding has happened before, but that was in 2009 when there was divided government. Democrats controlled the House and Republicans controlled the Senate. All state elected offices and both legislative bodies are currently controlled by Republicans.
“I don’t think I’m going to be leaving Columbus for a while,” Householder told The Columbus Dispatch.
The areas of disagreement are taxes, Medicaid, and education.
The House eliminated nearly half of a $1.2 billion income tax cut for certain businesses and individuals. Business groups, Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) want those restored.
Householder and Obhof are also at odds over Medicaid. Both are concerned about Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) and their impact on taxpayers and pharmacies, but have very different approaches to fixing the problem. Obhof wants to give money directly to pharmacies, while Householder wants to designate a single PBM to oversee the program.
“If the problem is [PBMs] creating a $100 million hole, the solution is not to just throw another $100 million in it. The solution is to fix the problem,” Householder told The Dispatch.
Regarding education, a number of rumors are circulating around the Statehouse. The impasse could be related to funding, or Senate changes to the graduation requirements, or whether to continue to allow state takeovers of poorly performing school districts.
State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) suggested to The Ohio Star that all the claims in the news are not necessarily accurate. But one thing is certain: “We are stuck and I’m not sure when we’ll be having session.”
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