Conference Committee Finalizes State Budget Bill

The State Budget Conference Committee completed its work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19 state budget addressing more than 600 differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The final Conference Committee report was adopted on a 4-2 party-line vote at about 11:00 p.m. Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), Rep. Scott Ryan (R-Newark), Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-N. Canton), and Sen. Gayle Manning (R-N. Ridgeville) voted for the report. Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and Sen. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) voted against it.

Public Library Fund
The Conference Committee retained the Senate language which minimizes the originally proposed reduction to the Public Library Fund (PLF) by temporarily setting the PLF at 1.68% of the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF) for fiscal years (FY) 2018 and 2019. Even though this is a reduction from the current rate of 1.7%, there was a strong possibility during the Conference Committee deliberations that the PLF could be further reduced back to the 1.66% rate in permanent law.

Minimizing the reduction and setting the PLF at 1.68% for the next two years should be considered a “win” in this budget. It is an extremely tight budget where state agencies, programs, schools and other local governments are receiving cuts in funding.

Next Steps
Both the full House and Senate will be voting on the Conference Committee report this afternoon during their sessions. No further amendments or changes to the bill will be accepted. The votes this afternoon are simply an “up or down” vote on HB 49. After the votes this afternoon, the budget bill then goes to Gov. Kasich. He has until 11:59 p.m. on June 30 to sign the legislation into law and exercise his line-item veto authority.