Ohio governor must cut budget

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's budget proposal exceeds mandatory spending growth limits and must be cut, with reductions at the hands of House lawmakers expected later this month, a newspaper reported.

State lawmakers also must reduce the Republican governor's spending plan because budget advisers say the state will take in less revenue than DeWine anticipated, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled House are expected to begin reducing the governor's proposals later this month while adjusting spending to meet House priorities. The state Senate then will have its own opportunity to look at spending once the budget reaches that chamber.

One challenge for the House is finding enough money to pay for its school-funding plan, which is expected to add $550 million on top of the governor's own education proposal.

A 2006 law was meant to keep state spending growth to a maximum of 3.5% a year unless three-fifths of lawmakers approve exceeding the limit.

DeWine's budget proposes spending nearly every dollar up to the limit, coming in at $3.3 million under the $23.6 billion cap in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $1.2 million short of the $24.4 billion limit the following year, the Dispatch reported.

What pushes the governor's budget over the limit is a legislative proposal to take $70 million from the general revenue fund - state dollars - and spend it on public transit through the separate transportation budget, passed earlier this month.

"We're out of balance right now," said House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County in southeastern Ohio. "We've got to work hard to get it back in balance. We'll take care of that. We'll do it."

The nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission has suggested that lawmakers cut DeWine's $2.8 billion two-year spending increase by $705 million, or 25 percent.

Tax collections continue to trend upward to support the estimated revenue underlying DeWine's budget, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said.

Collections during March totaled $66 million - or 4.7% over estimates - while tax collections for the fiscal year amounted to $136.9 million, or nearly 1% above projections.

The revenue debate is not "an issue until the General Assembly passes the budget," Tierney said.

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