Thursday, May 20, 2010

Batchelder: Budget Oversight Is Necessary Precaution

Columbus—The majority House Democrats yesterday passed a third financial Band-Aid on education funding after numerous incorrect revenue estimates from the Office of Budget and Management and a consequential $8 billion budget deficit. House Republican Leader William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) today encouraged further action on House Bill 120, a legislative measure that would provide financial oversight and accountability regarding state expenditures and revenues.

This proposal would establish the Legislative Budget Office (LBO), which would provide nonpartisan financial oversight and continuous monitoring of state finances to the General Assembly, including analysis and reports concerning the state budget.

“The LBO would allow the Legislature to determine its own fiscal capacity, especially as we prepare for a multi-billion dollar deficit,” said Batchelder. “This past budget neglected the transparency that is so crucial to primary and secondary education as well as local government units. Lawmakers, as well as their constituents, deserve to know when the administration fails to provide accurate revenue estimates prior to the passage of the budget. As lawmakers, we need to ensure that these estimates are correct if we want the next budget to be balanced and sustainable.”

Batchelder asserts that LBO will be able to alert the legislature to any potential problems arising with the state finances and raise any questions regarding fiscal actions taken by the governor or state agencies. Currently, the Legislative Service Commission is prohibited from alerting lawmakers of a questionable policy or harmful legislation due to their non-partisan nature.
As a caucus, House Republicans have expressed deep concern that without accurate revenue estimates, the legislature will be unable to craft a balanced budget and, as a result, perpetuate a high-tax, anti-business status quo. The “Future of Ohio” government reform package, a collection of 10 bills to fundamentally improve Ohio’s government and reduce waste, was a crucial first step, but these and other Republican solutions have been ignored by the House majority.

“It is unfortunate that this General Assembly slashed Ohio’s education funding a total of $32 million over the next two years,” said Batchelder. “For the first time since the DeRolph decision, the majority has enacted a budget that effectively cuts funding to school districts.”
Since its introduction more than a year ago, House Bill 120 has only received sponsor testimony in the House State Government Committee and has remained idle for more than a year. Batchelder and his House Republican colleagues are hopeful that prior to the House summer recess, both sides of the aisle will finally engage in a bipartisan discussion.
HB 120:

HB 120_Government Reform Package