Ordinarily, the Ohio governor is required to present his executive budget proposal to the General Assembly within four weeks of the legislature convening in early January. However, new governors are granted approximately five additional weeks, until March 15, to introduce their initial budget proposals. Gov. Mike DeWine had made it clear after taking office that his administration intended to utilize all that extra time before submitting his budget. That March 15 deadline is today, so at a press conference this morning, Gov. DeWine unveiled his two-year budget blueprint.
As he previewed in his State-of-the-State address on March 5, the budget he proposed for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 reflects the priorities he set forth during the campaign. Calling his proposal “a budget for Ohio’s Future”, he highlighted how his plan calls for increased funding for early childhood education and intervention services and for mental health and addiction recovery, and for further investment to ensure safe and clean water.
Of particular interest to Ohio employers, the governor has made closing the gap between workforce needs and the goals of job seekers a priority by investing more than $200 million new dollars over the biennium in workforce initiatives. Some of these dollars will go toward establishing regional job training partnerships and toward providing micro-degrees, which are low-cost, industry-recognized credentials that take less than a year to complete and can get workers quickly qualified for jobs in growing industries.
Also of interest to employers, Gov. DeWine’s budget does not include any new taxes or tax increases nor any proposals to shift taxes onto the business community. This is a welcome change from the previous three executive budget proposals.
The governor’s budget was crafted based on a generally positive economic outlook that forecasts continued economic growth, along with tax revenue growth of 3.9 percent in fiscal year 2020 and 1.7 percent growth in 2021. Overall, the proposed budget for fiscal years 2020-2021 calls for total state spending of $74.3 billion in fiscal year 2020 and $76.1 billion in fiscal year 2021. The 2020 amount represents a 4.6 percent increase over the fiscal year 2019 estimate, and there’s an additional 2.4 percent increase in 2021. The specific details and policy proposals contained within the budget will be available once the actual budget bill is introduced, which is expected to happen next week. Also next week, the House Finance Committee will begin its formal review of the budget, with hearings set for three days.