The State of Ohio operating budget must be signed into law no later than midnight, June 30, 2013. The Constitution mandates this deadline along with a requirement that the budget be in balance. The timeline for deliberations in both the House and Senate is not mandated by law and is fluid from biennium to biennium. Below is an overview of the likely timeline for this year’s budget bill, House Bill 59, based on historical experience and the limitations of this year’s calendar.
House Bill 59 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives on February 12, 2013. Testimony on the bill began in House Finance and Appropriations committee before the bill was officially introduced. Those hearings are continuing through various subcommittees of House Finance and Appropriations and the House Ways & Means committees. Subcommittees are scheduled to meet again the week of March 11 and may even go into the week of March 18.
Traditionally, the House of Representatives has attempted to vote the budget bill "out" of its chamber before the legislature’s spring break (taking place the weeks of March 25 and April 1 this year). It is unlikely that the House will be able to accomplish that goal this year. The House Republicans and Democrats will probably review and deliberate the likely thousands of possible amendments to the bill during the last week of March and the first week of April. After that, the full House Finance and Appropriations Committee will reconvene to consider amendments, vote and send the bill to the House floor. A vote of the full House of Representatives will likely occur the week of April 8 or 15.
House Bill 59 will then go to the Ohio Senate for the same process. This year, the Senate has created Senate Finance Subcommittees, a new paradigm for that chamber. The Senate Finance Subcommittees will likely meet the remainder of April and most of May.
Although it is hard to predict the timing of amendments and a vote in the Senate at this time, it is likely that the Senate Finance Committee will consider amendments the last week of May into the first week of June, with the Upper Chamber voting on its version of the budget bill sometime within that same period.
The bill will then be sent to Conference Committee of the House and Senate to work out any irreconcilable differences. That process will take at least two weeks, giving the Governor a week or two to review, make line-item vetoes, and sign the bill into law before July 1.
The bill has various effective dates for different policy items ranging from immediately upon passage to 90 days after passage. The sales tax provisions in the bill are currently set to take effect September 1, 2013, while the income tax provisions would be effective immediately and be applicable to business and individual tax filings for 2013.
All timing and deadlines set out above are rough estimates and can change dramatically based on the work of the House and Senate. It is important to monitor the progress of House Bill 59 closely to determine when and if amendments are due in either chamber and when to expect final votes in the House and Senate.