© 2024 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ohio Senate won't touch appropriations bill until after March primaries

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) in the senate chambers.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) in the Senate chambers.

The Ohio Senate is scheduled for floor session Wednesday, but it won’t do anything with the nearly $2 billion package appropriating money for regional and local projects that was voted out of the Ohio House earlier in February.

House Bill 2 allocates $350 million to local community investment projects through excess money from the state budget. It also outlines another $1.65 billion in bonded, or borrowed, funds toward Ohio’s colleges and its jails, among other institutions.

HB 2 cleared the House floor by a 75-19 vote Feb. 7, less than 24 hours after the proposal was first made publicly available. The same day, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) signaled he wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with the chamber's version or its fast-tracked timeline.

In a memo to senators, Huffman wrote the bill “did not include negotiations or discussions with members of the Senate or with the Senate President” and that senators would take their time on it, because he believed moving it without further debate would be “an abdication of the duties of the Senate.”

“I wanted to make clear there isn't any deal other than, we're going to obviously have to pass a bill, which constitutionally we're required to,” Huffman said Tuesday. “It doesn't make any sense because both the House and the Senate have to pass this.”

The Senate has its own $350 million in one-time dollars to allocate.

Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said she’s not worried about fellow Democratic lawmakers in the House coming to an agreement over funds in their shared districts.

“The bigger question is, is the Republican leadership going to be able to come to the table—which has been a little bit of a problem—and get to some agreements?” Antonio said Tuesday.

Disagreement over the bill hasn't been reserved for the Ohio Senate. All 19 ‘no’ votes in the House came from Republicans, most of whom opposed current House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) in his bid for the speakership.

Huffman said he doesn't believe the senate will nix many of the projects that house lawmakers put forward for funding. But the senate plans to follow its original timeline, he said, targeting passage before summer recess, if not sooner.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at sdonaldson@statehousenews.org.