Hearings opened Tuesday in the House Finance and Appropriations Committee on the administration’s capital re-appropriations bill, which, for the most part, re-ups funding for capital projects approved by previous General Assemblies – a generally a pretty routine process.
House Hearings Open on Reappropriations Bill
However, questions, primarily from the Republicans, seemed to indicate otherwise as they targeted the amount of debt incurred in the bill, the cost of that debt, details on the projects supported and the criteria for including them, the administration’s progress on restructuring the state’s debt approved in HB1, and the timing of issuing bonds.
Early in the hearing, finance chairman, Rep. Vern Sykes (D-Akron), made it clear that while HB462 had been tagged for a possible vote, that would not happen. Rather, he said the committee would meet on Monday, March 15 at 3 p.m. to act on the bill – a move applauded by Rep. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) who said he appreciated the time to study the bill.
Sykes later said amendments were due in his office by noon on Friday, March 12.
Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Pari Sabety testified on the provisions in HB462, telling the committee, “This bill authorizes reappropriations of capital items from prior fiscal years and authorizes new capital appropriations for the Public Works Commission [PWC] and the [Ohio] School Facilities Commission [OSFC].”
While she said the capital reappropriations bill is the “traditional vehicle” for PWC funding, the inclusion of an appropriation for OSFC is driven by the lack of a timeline for the next capital budget because “it is essential that appropriations be effective and in place in the near future in order to provide state support for the local levy proposals that some districts will have on the ballot in November.”
Sabety told the committee that this bill must be passed by March 31 “due to a Supreme court ruling in 1994 in the case AFL-CIO v. Voinovich.
“That case found that capital reappropriations must take effect 90 days after the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, rather than taking effect immediately” as is the case with the operating budget. Passage by the end of the month “will ensure that resources are available July 1 and that ongoing capital projects are not forced to stop activity while waiting for reauthorization.”
She said the bill identifies $2.5 billion in reappropriations compared with $5.9 billion in 127-HB496 (which included $4.4 billion from the tobacco securitization).
The bill contains a total of $670.5 million in appropriations and $4 million in “redirected” resources from previously authorized capital appropriations. The largest of the redirected funds relates to over $1.1 million originally appropriated for the Franklin County Rickenbacker Radar Project which is now being proposed to be used for the Rickenbacker control tower.