Budget process approaches finish line

With the Senate wrapping up its work on the budget, we are now looking at the differences between their version and the House’s version. I’ve spent the last month meeting with over half of Ohio’s senators to discuss the provisions in the budget that I feel are most important to helping Ohioan’s succeed.

In each of those meetings, I was pleased to know that the public servants in the Senate were heading in a direction of long-term sustainability for Ohio, the same goal we strive for in the House. On many occasions during the course of these meetings, Senators volunteered their support for the House’s efforts to reduce taxes and still provide adequate funding for our state agencies and schools.

The bipartisan, economically sound version of the budget that was passed by the House is good for Ohio. With over $1.2 billion in tax relief to Ohioans over the next two years and an across-the-board income tax reduction of 6.3 percent for Ohioans, we can see the kinds of tax cuts needed to put more in wallets and see some real positive change.

Of course, even with all the matters both sides agree upon, budget deliberations will be difficult as we settle on the final funding levels and finish the process. The budget represents the road map for state spending for the next two fiscal years, so these decisions have a lasting impact. At stake is our responsibly to the taxpayers of Ohio to operate on a balanced budget.

The biggest challenge ahead of us in this process is determining what we can expect in revenue over the course of the next two years. We are budgeting based on projected revenue dollars, and if we budget for more than what actually comes in, we will have trouble paying the bills. Relying on economic reality is crucial at this point.

We have a situation where there are differing opinions on what we can expect to see in revenue in the coming two years, which is providing a sticking point for exactly how we should be utilizing our funds. Ohio’s constitution requires a balanced budget be passed every two years. I have no doubt that both chambers will be able to get this completed and produce a budget that Ohio can be proud of, if we work together. No matter what, lowering taxes while still operating an effective, responsible state government should be a top priority.

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