Initial State Budget Bill Analysis and Talking Points

HB 166 Introduced in Ohio House
House Bill (HB) 166, Governor DeWine’s state budget proposal for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020-2021, was formally introduced on March 25 and covers 1,810 pages. This is the first step in the legislative process. The Governor’s budget does not include any income tax cuts. Instead, it focuses on making targeted investments in specific areas related to early childhood, water quality and mental health services.

It also proposes some spending increases based on the assumption that state revenues will grow over the next two fiscal years. This is important to note for two reasons:

  1. The Public Library Fund (PLF) is a percentage of monthly state revenues.
  2. There are differences between the Governor’s revenue projections and the Ohio General Assembly’s, as was noted when testimony before the House Finance Committee began last week.

This will be an important factor as the House and the Senate debate the Governor’s proposal over the next three months. Revenue projections will not be updated again until June – when the House and the Senate Conference Committee meets to work out the differences in their state budget proposals.

Public Library Fund
Gov. DeWine’s budget proposal includes maintaining the Public Library Fund (PLF) at 1.68% over the biennium, and NOT reducing it to the 1.66% rate that is set in permanent law. However, the language is once again in the temporary law section of the bill, so the 1.68% rate would only be in effect for FY 20-21.

The Governor’s Office of Budget and Management (OBM) has made the following projections:

  • FY19: $397,190,000
  • FY20: $417,300,000 (+ 5.1%)
  • FY21: $424,900,000 (+ 1.8%)

Again, these estimates are based on keeping the PLF rate at 1.68%, no additional tax cuts and natural growth in state revenues. These estimates also include funding for OPLIN ($3.7 million each FY) and the Library for the Blind ($1.3 million each FY). Setting the PLF at 1.68% is a step in the right direction. However, we still have several months to go in the legislative process and the General Assembly may base their budget proposals on lower revenue projections and/or propose additional tax cuts – both of which could impact the PLF.

 

Books from Birth
The Governor’s budget also proposes creating the Books from Birth Foundation. This is a priority initiative for First Lady Fran DeWine. According to the bill language, the program would fall under the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) to support childhood literacy efforts in the state. It would permit the ODJFS Director to work with nonprofit entities and foundations in this effort. In addition, the bill would appropriate $5 million in FY 20 to begin the program.

There has been some discussion about this proposal and how it relates to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL). Even though the legislation does NOT mention the DPIL by name, both the Governor and Mrs. DeWine are strong supporters of the program and their grandchildren have participated in the DPIL through their local library.

It is important to note that:

  • The Books from Birth Foundation would NOT be funded through the PLF.
  • It is NOT a mandatory program for Ohio’s public libraries.
  • Different entities from across the state can choose to participate in the program, including public libraries.
  • It will be a public/private partnership.
  • The OLC Government Relations Committee discussed the proposal at their meeting on March 22, and is currently gathering more information on how the program would work.

TALKING POINTS
Between now and OLC’s Legislative Day on April 9 – Please use the following Talking Points with legislators when discussing HB 166, the State Budget Proposal:

PLF

  • We thank Gov. Mike DeWine for highlighting the work and importance of Ohio’s public libraries in his first state budget proposal.
  • Investing in Ohio’s public libraries is critical as the usage and demand for our services is growing and broadening – especially in the areas of early childhood education, broadband connectivity and workforce development.
  • Making public libraries a priority in this budget and maintaining the PLF at 1.68% is a step in the right direction.
  • However, state funding for public libraries has been cut by more than $113 million since 2001 – a 23% reduction in funding over the past 17 years with no adjustment for inflation.
  • The PLF percentage has been reduced since 2008 and has not fully recovered from the recession.
  • In addition, there are still several unknowns in the budget process between now and June 30.
  • We are continuing to urge the General Assembly to Restore the PLF!

Books from Birth

  • The OLC is a strong supporter of early childhood literacy initiatives and Ohio’s public libraries provide a wide array of early literacy programs based on the needs of the children and families in their local communities.
  • Ohio’s public libraries look forward to working with the Governor, the First Lady and the legislature to champion early literacy.