DeWine Releases “Investing in Ohio” Budget; More Funding for Broadband, Infrastructure/Site Readiness, Workforce Development & Small Biz Grants
On Monday, February 1, Governor Mike DeWine announced his administration’s executive budget proposal for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Joined by Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks, Governor DeWine walked through the highlights of the two year spending plan.
Altogether, the budget proposes spending $85.76 billion in FY22 and $85.81 billion in FY23 in federal and state funding.
The actual legislative language is not available yet, so while the Governor’s spending plans and priorities and his announced policy initiatives are known, there are still more details and proposals to come.
Budget Proposal Highlights
Governor DeWine, in touting the two-year spending plan, noted that the proposal does not raise taxes and does not tap the state’s rainy-day fund. The Governor attributed that to the administration’s forethinking at the onset of the pandemic including trimming state spending and prudent use of federal relief funds.
In addition to funding the state government’s operations and functions, Governor DeWine also announced an additional spending of almost $1 billion in targeted investments to help Ohio’s economy recover from the impacts caused by the pandemic. The one-time spending was made possible again through previous budget savings and utilizing federal funds. Specific details and legislative language for these programs will become more clear once the actual bill language is available.
Called the Investing in Ohio Initiative, the $1 billion includes:
- $250 million for broadband expansion;
- $200 million for “Ohio Community” infrastructure projects such as drinking water infrastructure improvements, preparing job ready sites, and blighted property removal;
- $460 million in targeted grants for small businesses, the hospitality sector, entertainment sector, and new businesses;
- $50 million for workforce development to expand Ohio’s TechCred program to 40,000 credentials;
- Another $25 million to help schools offer in-demand credentials; and
- $50 million investment in public health equity initiatives.
Governor DeWine proposed continuing the H2Ohio initiative started with his first budget in 2019, which aims to ensure safe and clean water for all Ohioans. $100 million is recommended for the Department of Agriculture to assist farmers in nutrient, water, and erosion management. $50 million is the suggested appropriation for the Department of Natural Resources to continue wetland restoration, and $92 million is provided for the Environmental Protection Agency to improve water and wastewater infrastructure.
Public Education Spending
In last year’s General Assembly, the Ohio House of Representatives passed sweeping changes to the state’s public education funding formula (the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan), but the measure ultimately did not become law. Citing the House’s previous work, Governor DeWine’s budget proposal made no proposed changes to the formula so the legislature can continue deliberating on a new funding formula. The proposal does include a total of $1.1 billion for student health and social-emotional wellness. House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan will reappear as H.B. 1 and on Thursday the legislation was formally introduced.
Public Health Initiatives
As mentioned above, the Governor’s proposal includes a $50 million, one-time investment, to advance public health in Ohio, including $6 million to support local health departments, $2 million to identify and address social determinants of health, $3.25 to RecoveryOhio, and $25 million to improve public health data.
House Finance Committee Budget Hearing Schedule
The Ohio House of Representatives’ Finance Committee began reviewing the budget proposal on Thursday, February 4 and Committee Chair Scott Oelslager (R-Canton) said the Committee’s deliberations will continue next week with testimony from state executive agency directors.
The actual budget legislation is still being drafted and not formally introduced, so more details of the Governor’s policy proposals are coming in the next days and weeks. We’ll also learn more when state executive cabinet agency directors testify about their specific agency’s budget requests. As the budget process unfolds over the next five months, we will provide regular updates on this most important fiscal and policy piece of legislation.
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