Ohio’s Biennial State Budget: Overview
The state of Ohio operates on a biennial budget, meaning budgeting for the state’s programs and various state agencies normally runs on a two-year cycle. The state’s main operating appropriations bill, referred to here as Ohio’s biennial state budget, is typically enacted by July 1 of every odd-numbered year. For example, Ohio’s 2014-2015 biennial state budget will be enacted by roughly July 1, 2013 and runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015.
The budget process begins with state agencies submitting their budget requests to Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management. Taking into consideration state agencies’ budget requests, the Governor proposes the executive budget, which is presented to the Ohio General Assembly. Following the legislative process, the Ohio General Assembly passes Ohio’s biennial state budget and the bill heads back to the Governor for final approval. Unlike the federal budget, Ohio’s Constitution requires the state to have a balanced budget. This prevents the state from deficit spending.
During budget negotiations, there are many competing interests advocating for passage of a state budget that best represents their interests. How the state’s financial resources are allocated to fund healthcare programs, particularly Medicaid, is a top priority of many advocacy groups representing both consumers, providers, and others. Given that Ohio’s Medicaid program accounts for roughly a quarter of the state’s budget, a significant portion of Ohio’s biennial state budget conversations center around this safety-net program.
With many details about how the federal healthcare reform law will be implemented unclear, the impact that federal reform will have on state budget conversations in Columbus remains to be seen.