Late Wednesday, at the end of a contentious day of negotiations among Senate and House Leadership and Governor Strickland, Senate Democrats rejected the latest Republican amendments to HB 318, the bill that aims to fill the $851 million gap in the FY10-11 budget.  One of the Republican amendments would enact the recommendations of the Ohio Construction Reform Panel.  The plan had been for the Senate Finance Committee to approve the amendments Wednesday morning and send them to the full Senate for approval later in day.  But that plan fell apart when Senate and House Democrats along with Governor Strickland signaled they wouldn’t go along.



Unable to proceed further, the Senate Finance Committee convened Wednesday evening for the purpose of unveiling their amendments (which included the OCRP recommendations), then adjourned indefinitely– to allow all the interested parties time to mull things over and to enjoy a Thanksgiving Holiday.



The Ohio Construction Reform Panel’s recommendations may determine how architects will do business with the State for the next decade. Among the recommendations (designed to lower the cost and speed construction of public projects) are amendments that would allow public owners to use alternative delivery methods including a hybrid design-build concept and construction manager at risk. AIA-Ohio supports the recommendations so long as they safeguard the Qualifications Based System (QBS) for selecting architects for state work.



AIA-Ohio will analyze this latest proposed legislation to assure it is consistent with AIA-Ohio policy.





There’s no way to tell what is likely to happen when the Senate, House and Governor return to the budget bargaining table.  Along with the OCRP recommendations Senators added a large number of other issues to HB 318 which both the House and Governor Strickland find anathema.



Following are the provisions rolled into the substitute bill that were highlighted by Senate Finance Chairman Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston) during Wednesday evening’s hearing:
–  Includes Ohio Construction Reform Panel recommendations as drafted by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS).
– Allows one-third of the scheduled income tax reduction to go into effect rather than freezing the full reduction. This nets the state $278.7 million in FY10 and $284.0 million in FY11.
– Creates a trigger mechanism by which an increased portion of or the full scheduled income tax rate reduction would occur if the governor moves forward on VLTs, or if excess casino revenues are generated within the biennium and could be used to offset GRF.
– Restores $25 million in FY10 and $35 million in FY11 for chartered, nonpublic schools that were disproportionately cut in the budget process.
– Transfers the casino licensure fees, approved by voters as ‘State Issue 3,’ into the GRF to offset current regional job program expenditures. This provides $200 million in FY11.
– Grants waivers for school districts regarding unfunded mandates for all-day kindergarten and class size reductions.
– Allows school districts to privatize transportation services if they choose to do so.
– Provides flexibility in state report cards for school districts that failed to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) in certain sub groups.
– Allows broader use of joint purchasing by education service centers and school purchasing consortia.
– Includes SB190 ROTC high school credit provisions.
– Requires DAS implement paperwork reduction/cost savings strategies. This is estimated to save $10 million/year.
– Includes comprehensive sentencing reforms. This is estimated to save $20 million in FY10 and $30 million in FY11.
– Establishes an oil and gas drilling pilot program on state-owned land at Salt Fork. This is estimated to bring in $10 million in FY11.
– Removes pay cut language as it is now contained in SB209.
– Creates a privatization commission to study state functions that could be privatized.
– Specifies that future collective bargaining contracts let by the state will coincide with the state’s biennial budget time frame.
– Requires that three state agencies (natural resources, education, and transportation) undergo performance audits.
– Studies a state government restructuring plan similar to those proposed in SB52 and HB25.
– Studies potential cost savings and economic benefits to Ohio employers and injured workers by allowing private insurance companies to compete with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
– Requires the auditor of state’s office to determine if BWC has adequate reserves compared to industry standards and to recommend rebates if an over-reserve is determined to exist.
– Studies cost savings that may be achieved if the state were to go to a four-day workweek.
– Transfers functions of the School Employee Health Care Board to DAS and deletes GRF appropriation in the Department of Education. This saves $800,000/year.
– Transfers $15 million per fiscal year from the liquor profits fund into the GRF.
– Transfers $15 million per fiscal year from the Housing Trust Fund into the GRF.
– Transfers $1 million per fiscal year in total from three public safety education funds (83G0, 83N0, and 8440).
– Specifies that the insurance settlement funds for the Lake Hope State Park lodge be used for the purpose of fixing that site.
– Uses half of the current scrap tire fee to provide funding to the state’s soil and water districts.
– Ensures correct appropriation authority for the Department of Mental Health’s 408 line item.
A PDF of the Senate proposed OCRP amendments to HB 318 is available upon request.
We’ll keep you posted on future developments….



David W. Field, CAE, Hon. AIA


Executive Vice President