For the first time since 2009, Ohio lawmakers failed to meet a statutory deadline to approve the state’s proposed $69 billion two-year operating budget by June 30. Because the House and Senate could not reach a compromise, they are now in a 17-day extension to fund state government to allow more time for reaching an agreement on a two-year budget.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) met with Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) on Monday for budget negotiations and both have told Statehouse reporters they expect more meetings all week long until a deal is reached.
“Investing in Ohio’s future” is Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget theme, and he’s expressed his disapproval of the impasse, noting, “The legislature has an obligation to keep our government funded and operating. Both houses passed proposals that share the priorities of my executive budget proposal, and they passed them by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities. I urge the conference committee to continue negotiations and pass a budget promptly.”
Another person who is ready to move forward with a new budget is Lt. Governor and Montpelier native Jon Husted.
In a 20-minute interview with The Bryan Times Tuesday, Husted reflected on his first seven months in office by saying he is “hopeful” a new budget is approved soon because he’s ready to push forward with several new initiatives, such as expanding career schools and technical and trade school educational opportunities.
“We’ve been working on that and some other initiatives for the past six months, but those (have been funded through) the old budget. I want the General Assembly to pass a new budget so we can get started on some of these new initiatives,” said Husted, mentioning one of those is the newly created InnovateOhio platform.
Begun with much fanfare in late April, InnovateOhio will “coordinate data and resources across state government to improve the way Ohio tackles our most challenging problems, including streamlining technology service across agencies to give Ohio citizens and businesses a better experience when interacting with state government,” according to www.innovationohio.org.
Examples include a pilot program making it possible for people to register for appointments at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, “so they don’t just show up and then have to wait in line” for long periods of time, Husted said.
Husted, a 1985 Montpelier High School graduate who grew up just outside the village on County Road J, said current budget sticking points seem to be the controversial provisions for the nuclear power plants operated by FirstEnergy Solutions and differences between the House and Senate on cutting taxes on small business.
“I’m optimistic we’ll get an energy bill and simultaneously deliver (approvals) on Medicaid” and on PBMs, which are third-party administrators for prescription drug programs, including self-insured employer plans and Medicare Part D plans.
Husted said he works well with DeWine and noted he is involved in economic large-scale development projects across the state, “and most are still in the works.” But he also dropped a hint that “we may have a big announcement (about an economic development project) some time in the fall, as our efforts begin to pay off.”