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Legislative Process

“I’m just a bill. Yes, I’m only a bill…”

The Schoolhouse Rock song about how a bill becomes a law might be instructive for children, and it may even offer a simplified introduction to the legislative process in Ohio. But Ohio’s state budgeting process is more complex.

Following is an overview of the budget process in Ohio. For information about the outcome of the FY2016-17 state budget process, click here.

Ohio’s State Budget Process


  • Legislation in play in odd-numbered years
  • Budget is “biennial,” covering a two-year period
  • Must be balanced (projected revenues equal projected expenditures)
  • Must pass by June 30 to take effect July 1
  • Current budget (known as HB64, or the FY2016-17 budget) will be in effect from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017
  • In years when a new Governor takes office, the introduction of the budget is typically pushed forward by two months, although the budget must still be finalized by June 30
  • View current legislative calendar for Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives
  • Find your legislators

General Timeline (odd-numbered years)

  • January – Governor outlines budget in State of the State Address and presents the Executive Budget (as late as March 15 for newly elected governors)
  • February – Budget bill introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to House Finance and Appropriations Committee
  • February/March – Public testimony on the budget heard in subcommittee and in full committee, which passes an amended version of the bill
  • March – House of Representatives passes the budget bill and sends it to the Senate
  • April – Senate Finance Committee hears public testimony on the budget and passes an amended version of the bill
  • May – Ohio Senate passes the budget bill; if House fails to concur, a Conference Committee is appointed to work out the differences
  • June – Conference Committee resolves differences between House and Senate versions of the budget and sends an agreed-upon version of the budget to the floor of both houses for approval; Governor signs bill into law with or without line-item vetoes

Throughout the process, the appropriations bill is subject to lobbying by a variety of interests. Corporations and unions, nonprofit organizations, watchdog groups, consumer alliances, policy experts, the media, and even interests outside Ohio – not to mention the general public – all attempt to influence the outcome using a variety of methods. The final budget determines whether Ohio strengthens families and communities over the next two years. Advocates for Ohio’s Future monitors the budget at each step of the process, standing up for Ohioans who participate in health, human services, and early care & education programs to be more competitive.

For more information on how the budget bill is negotiated and how to be an effective advocate, click here.

Learn more about how you can get involved.