ODJFS Needs Upwards of $300 Million to Balance Budget


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As we spoke about last week, there seems to be a clear miss-understanding between OBM and Jobs and Family Services on the amount of money the state will owe the feds on interest payments for unemployment compensation loans and if that money is even due.  To review, John Spinelli at the Columbus Examiner originally broke the story citing information from ODJFS that the department is planning on having to pay interest payments totaling $194 million over the biennium and that those funds are not included in the administrations budget proposals.

To add even more of a wrinkle to the situation Tim Keen, Kasich’s budget director, decided that Ohio is not going to pay the $194 million it owes the feds this biennium and will use those funds to close the $7.7 billion dollar budget gap. Instead of using all $194 million that Ohio owes, OBM has estimated that the interest payments equal $300 million over the biennium and will use all $300 million to close the budget gap. For those keeping score that is a difference of $106 million between what ODJFS thinks the state owes and what OBM thinks the state owes. When asked by the Columbus examiner why the difference between these two amounts, well, ODJFS didn’t really have a good answer:

When CGE asked Johnson if budget director Tim Keen was aware the numbers the budget document first used were inaccurate, Johnson said, “We have worked very closely with OBM throughout the budget process and continue to work closely with them to identify non-GRF sources of funding for the interest payments.”

ODJFS goes on to explain that these numbers are just estimates and that they change over time and that the department will continue to work closely with OBM on this matter.  Which is all well and good but the larger implication is that OBM and ODJFS are having a hard time getting on the same page and that this lesson in miss-communication is either going to send Kasich’s budget out of balance by $194 million or $300 million. Considering that schools and local governments are still attempting to come to terms with the massive holes that have been blown into their budgets due to H.B. 153 I’m sure that neither group will be excited to hear that there is going to be some more cutting at the tune of $300 million.

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  1. Plain Dealer agrees, Kasich budget is at least $193 million in the hole | Ohio Budget Watch
  2. ODJFS needs between $193-$300 million to balance its budget | Ohio Budget Watch

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