Lawmakers fail to meet deadline for passing budget

COLUMBUS — State lawmakers failed this weekend to meet a statutory deadline for agreement on a two-year operating budget for Ohio for the first time since 2009.

With time running out to meet Sunday’s deadline, the Ohio Senate late Saturday night approved a 17-day stopgap measure to fund state government to allow more time for reaching an agreement on a two-year budget. The House approved the interim budget Sunday night and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it.

A joint House-Senate committee has been working through differences in the $69 billion spending bill in an attempt to meet the June 30 deadline. A final proposal must be approved in up-or-down votes by both chambers.

Some of the differences that have divided the chambers include taxes, health care and school funding.

DeWine had urged lawmakers to continue meeting over the weekend until they could reach agreement on the two-year budget.

“The legislature has an obligation to keep our government funded and operating,” DeWine said in a statement Saturday.

Senate President Larry Obhof and House Speaker Larry Householder, both Republicans, have said they hope it won’t take until July 17 to reach agreement on the biennial budget.

Obhof, of Medina, said that the lawmakers are “going to hash out the differences” and be back soon to pass a final version of the budget.

Householder, of Glenford, said in his statement that House members “are committed to continuing to work with the Senate” on the few differences that remain to be resolved.

Republicans hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes said that passing a budget “should be easy” in a state with “one-party rule.”

“Failing to pass a long-term budget is a dereliction of our constitutional duty and a broken promise to Ohio taxpayers,” said the Akron Democrat.

Lawmakers also failed to meet Sunday’s deadline for approving a budget for Ohio’s insurance fund for injured workers.

The Senate late Saturday approved a separate bill extending funding for the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation for an additional 30 days. That extension also was approved by the House in its Sunday session and signed by DeWine.