Week in Review > Week In Review 7-24-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on July 24th, 2023
IT’S IN THE FY24-25 BUDGET
After months of legislative deliberations and negotiations, Ohio’s FY24-25 biennial budget ended up fairly close to Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed spending levels for state revenue sources but substantially lower when looking at federal dollars. According to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), DeWine’s 44 line-item vetoes did not affect final spending totals reflected in the Legislative Service Commission’s (LSC) appropriations spreadsheet on the conference committee version of HB33 (Edwards). In terms of state-only General Revenue Fund spending, the as-enacted budget comes in at $27.9 billion for FY24 and $29.4 billion for FY25, compared to an executive proposal of $28.1 billion and $29.4 billion, respectively.
All Funds spending in the final version ended up at $95 billion in FY24 and $95.7 billion in FY25, compared to $103.3 billion in FY24 and $99.7 billion in the executive proposal. In comparison, the budget that passed two years prior, 134-HB110 (Oelslager), included state-only GRF spending of $24.2 billion for FY22 and $26 billion in FY23, while All Funds spending was $80.8 billion and $81.1 billion, respectively.
The Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) will be the primary regulator of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) by the end of the year, under provisions in HB33 (Edwards). The budget requires the Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) to transfer its MMCP powers — which include the regulation of dispensaries, patients and caregivers, among other items — to DOC no later than Sunday, Dec. 31. DOC will run MMCP under the newly-created Division of Marijuana Control (DMC), which will have its own superintendent. All MMCP rules created by OBP and DOC will remain in effect unless they are changed by DMC. Similarly, all licenses and registrations issued by OBP and DOC will remain in effect for the remainder of their terms. All forms and methods of use for medical marijuana approved by OBP will remain approved unless revoked by DMC. By Friday, March 1, 2024, DMC is required to review and propose revisions to the rules on dispensaries. The director of the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) is required to renumber the rules of OBP regulating the MMCP to reflect the transfer of the program to DOC.
The Indigent Defense System Taskforce created by 134-HB150 (Hillyer) awaits members and a first meeting as the separate panel convened by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) continues work on sustainable funding to county public defenders. Both follow the FY24-25 budget that removes the House’s proposal to restructure state support but also adds more than $30 million annually to county reimbursements. The right to legal counsel has long been a challenge for Ohio’s state and local funding bodies and a recurring budget question that has come in for additional support under the DeWine administration. “Under Gov. DeWine, indigent defense has received long overdue funding increases that allow Ohio to meet its constitutional duties. This biennium continues this commitment and is the highest level of funding for indigent defense in Ohio’s history,” Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said in a July 7 memo to county officials including commissioners, public defenders, appointed counsel, judges and auditors.
The Ohio Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office is celebrating over a year of assisting and educating Ohioans involved in the children services system, protecting Ohio’s children and elevating the needs of families. The office opened May 31, 2022, as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s Children Services Transformation (CST) Advisory Council’s 37 recommendations to reform Ohio’s children services system. “At the core of every positive fostering experience is the relationship between the caregiver and youth,” said Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder. “The Ohio Youth and Family Ombudsmen have found early success by ensuring both youth and caregivers have a voice, and that the relationship is built on the principles embodied in the Youth and Family Bills of Rights.” The office promotes two of the other CST Advisory Council’s recommendations: the Resource Family Bill of Rights, and the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. The Resource Family Bill of Rights assures foster and kinship families are heard, supported, and valued as a part of the team while the Foster Youth Bill of Rights ensures that youth have a safe place to live and an opportunity for a normal childhood.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted told a statewide summit of Ohio’s 100-plus Business Advisory Councils (BAC) Friday that their efforts to forge synergy between employers and K-12 is a critical part of the state’s economic future. He addressed a large group of public and private sector members who had gathered at Columbus State Community College’s (CSCC) Center for Workforce Development for a BAC Town Hall.
Acknowledging the appropriateness of the setting, Husted pointed to a recent ranking of states for economic health. “We would have been rated in the top 10 except for one issue: Workers. That’s our mission.” The Ohio Department of Education (ODE), which administers Business Advisory Councils, is working to implement the public-private panels in every school district and educational services center (ESC) in Ohio.
The state announced nearly $10 million in grants Thursday to make walking and biking routes to school safer for children. The $9.8 million for the Safe Routes to School program will support the likes of new sidewalks and path extensions, crosswalks, flashing beacons, bicycle lanes and other improvements around schools. It also provides programming to help encourage and enable K-12 students who live within two miles of school to walk or bike. According to the DeWine administration, it is the largest single-year total for the Safe Routes to School program.
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