While there has been a lot of talk recently about the US Senate’s refusal to pass a budget during the past three years, Ohio lawmakers took a second look at its budget. Typically, the state legislature passes a budget every two years, a plan that outlines the state’s spending during that time. Last year this was accomplished in House Bill 153. Now, in what has been called the Mid-Biennium Review, or MBR, the Ohio House and Senate have been taking another look at how our state spends money and will make further cost-saving changes.
Although this is unusual—to my knowledge this is the only time it has ever been done—I agree with its intentions. When dealing with taxpayer dollars, elected officials should never hesitate to look at ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. That is precisely what the MBR is intended to do.
Because the bill presented to the House by the governor was so large—greater than 2,800 pages—it was rightfully broken up into 10 smaller bills, each assigned to relevant committees. If we are going to take the time to review a previously passed piece of legislation, it makes sense to give every component of the review ample consideration and attention. That way, bills that were not controversial and that had bipartisan support from the outset could be passed, while other, more divisive parts could receive additional consideration.
In June, the House passed HB 487, the central component of the MBR. Among other things, the bill is targeted towards streamlining government operations and to prioritize state spending. Although it is unprecedented to review every line-item in the budget in a non-budget year, it should be encouraging to see leadership in Columbus that is continually dedicated to making the most out of every taxpayer dime.
Through the process of passing HB 487, we were able to consolidate or re-purpose more than 135 appropriation line-items, resulting in $13 million in savings over this two-year budget cycle. Simply taking another look at the budget gave us the ability to see things that may have either not seemed possible or were simply not noticed during the last go-around. It was sort of like reading a book or watching a movie for the second time—you pick up on things that you did not see the first time.
Other bills on the MBR agenda that were passed dealt with topics like taxes, land conveyances and financial institutions—all part of the effort to increase government efficiency and make it more accountable to taxpayers. But the mission in all of those bills was essentially the same: to go through the bills with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that no tax money is being wasted.
Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) is the state representative serving the 66th District.