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Ohio House does not vote on potential interim budget

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(The Center Square) – The Ohio House did not vote Tuesday on a proposal to give lawmakers an extra week to reach a compromise on the next two-year state budget.

The passage, which would have kept current spending levels and moved a Friday midnight deadline ahead seven days, was removed late in the session from voting. The Senate, scheduled to return to session Wednesday, would have had to concur.

On Monday, the House Rules and Reference Committee approved an amendment for a seven-day interim budget to a bill that deals with the state’s homestead exemption. By law, the state must pass a balanced budget by June 30 every two years that then must be signed by the governor.

The House is scheduled to return to session Wednesday, with if-needed sessions scheduled for Thursday and Friday before the summer recess. The potential budget extension could remain on the agenda for an upcoming session.

Tuesday’s potential vote came a day after Gov. Mike DeWine encouraged lawmakers to reach a budget agreement rather than develop the interim budget.

“I have full confidence in the General Assembly’s ability to get this budget passed by the Constitutionally prescribed deadline of June 30. The legislative parties need to return to the bargaining table and keep working,” DeWine said in a statement late Monday. “Ohio’s fiscal standing, financial outlooks, and bond ratings are all strong. Schools, local governments, and all Ohioans need this budget done on time to keep Ohio’s economy growing.”

Last week, the House rejected a chance to concur with the Senate version by a 71-23 vote, forcing the budget to a conference committee.

The Senate passed a budget more than 10 days ago that was $2 billion less than the House’s version and contained significant differences in school funding, school choice, tax cuts, gambling taxes, Medicaid expansion and teacher pay.

According to the Legislative Service Commission, the Senate’s version contains $180 million more in spending on school vouchers than the House and provides $541 million less funding for public schools. The commission has said a full school voucher program in the state would cost taxpayers $1 billion.

The Senate also included an increase in the state’s sports betting tax from 10% to 20%, which the Legislative Budget Office said could generate up to $135 million more tax dollars, according to BetOhio.

At a conference committee meeting Thursday, Kimberly Murnieks, director of the state Office of Budget and Management, testified before the committee that state revenues are expected to be 1.4% higher than previously forecasted for fiscal year 2023 and up another $513 million for 2024. Estimates remain the same for 2025.

Murnieks also predicted modest to slow growth over the two years in the state’s major tax sources – non-auto sales tax, auto sales tax, commercial activity tax and personal income tax.

Murnieks also predicted more than a $1 billion decrease in spending over the next two years.

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