Ohio Budget Process Stalls, House and Senate Vote to Extend

 

The Ohio House of Representatives met for a short, Sunday evening session to approve two bills and reject Senate amendments to a third. They were operating under a June 30 deadline for passage of the biennial budget, House Bill 166, and the budget for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), House Bill 80.

Two bills passed: Senate Bills 171 and 172. SB 171 is the budget extension. SB 172 is the bill for the extension for the BWC.

State Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) made a motion that Article 2, section 15C of the Ohio Constitution, requiring bills to be considered by both Houses on three different days, be suspended. He included in the motion that House Rules 62 and 63 be suspended for the same reason. All 92 members present voted to suspend the rules and SB 171 and SB 172 were considered and ultimately passed.

SB 171 was the first bill to be brought up for a vote. “The House and Senate have been working diligently (on the biennium budget)…I believe we have made significant progress and have only a few items remaining.” said State Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), chair of the House Finance Committee and member of the Conference Committee working on the budget with the Senate.

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), minority member of the Conference Committee, stated, “Mr. Speaker, it’s certainly been an interesting few days for the budget process. I know that you and the chair have been working real hard and had some long nights. I woke up Friday morning with vertigo and dizziness…but since there’s been a of lot finger-pointing these days, I’m just going to blame the Senate.”

Cera pointed out the three major concerns of the Democrats: tax policy, education and health care. He requested support for the budget extension.

The BWC interim budget that passed, SB 172, allows for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to continue to operate through July 31 as the House and Senate continue negotiations.

Rep. Oelslager commented on SB 172, “We have a couple of differences to iron out.”

The differences between the two Houses concerning House Bill 80, the actual budget bill for the BWC, are the Senate’s removal of so-called reform amendments and their removal of PTSD supports for first responders. The House and Senate will have an additional 30 days to consider the differences with the passage of Senate Bill 172.

The Senate amendments to House Bill 80 were rejected by a vote of three members for the Senate amendments and 88 opposed.

Butler moved for adjournment. The House adjourned.

Afterwards, the Speaker issued the following statement:

While we would have preferred to have wrapped up work on the budget this weekend, we are committed to continuing to work with the Senate on the few issues that remain to be resolved for the operating budget. Senate President Obhof and I spoke tonight. We share the goals of meaningful tax relief, government reform and funding essential services. The House looks forward to passing a balanced, responsible budget plan for the people of Ohio as expeditiously as possible.”

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to bethlearreports@gmail.com.
Images “Ohio House of Representative Budget Vote” by Ohio Channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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