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First Look at Gov. Kasich’s Budget Plan

Ohio Environmental Council, February 11, 2013

Governor John Kasich has unveiled his blueprint for state investments over the next two years. The $130.45 billion operating budget and $7.6 billion transportation budget set priorities on thousands of state-funded operations, from aviation to zoonotic disease control.

OEC staff are pouring over budget spreadsheets and hundreds of proposed law changes, attending budget hearings, and consulting with agency officials, key lawmakers, and other experts.

We’re drilling down to learn the pluses and minuses of the Kasich spending plans on our, land, water, and food resources; clean energy development; transportation options; and clean, green job growth.

While we continue to analyze these massive documents (the transportation budget is 255 pages long; the operating budget runs more than 2,500 pages), some trends are emerging.

For the most part, the new operating and transportation budgets can be characterized as “continuation budgets” for most divisions and programs engaged in environmental protection, natural resource conservation, energy development, and public transportation.

From a “glass half full” perspective, this is good news, because at least these investments are continued at current budget levels.

From a “glass half empty” view, this is disappointing, because even though the economy is recovering and revenues are growing (and the needs are never ending), no additional funding was requested.

A few highlights and lowlights

Celebratory news:  Strengthened disposal standards for radioactive-tainted waste from oil + gas drilling. Big boost in funding for oil + gas well plugging (+87%) and geological mapping (+73%).

Reassuring news: Funding maintained for state nature preserves and public transit.

Concerning news: State parks and forests, Heidelberg water quality lab slated for funding cuts.

Disturbing news: Coastal management slated for big (-34%) budget cut.

You can review the budget bill here.

Check back often for updated information, including this Friday for the OEC’s transportation budget testimony.