What’s taking so long?
[update: post updated to reflect that conference committee was AGAIN cancelled Sunday, and is now slated for Monday morning]
Seriously, it’s not a trivial question. Conference Committee was slated to meet Thursday afternoon, then rescheduled for Friday morning, then Friday afternoon, then Saturday morning and now they’re back on for Sunday afternoon. This can’t continue for long. State law requires a budget be in effect by midnight on June 30th (Thursday).
According to Darryl Rowland in the Dispatch, there are some additional time constraints facing conferees:
Time is starting to become a concern. The House has a rule that the budget must be available two days before a vote. Both chambers had tentatively scheduled votes on Tuesday, which means the conference panel apparently now will have to wrap up its work Saturday.
Gov. John Kasich is planning to sign the measure Thursday, and stage a ceremony next Friday — the day it would take effect.
This article was written Friday afternoon, before the delay pushing things back to Sunday afternoon. So, now, presuming they report out and agree on a budget in conference late Monday, given two days to read the budget, that puts the vote on Thursday, the day the budget must be signed by the Governor. The House routinely takes several days to get a bill to the Governor, and that’s for routine, one-page stuff. This is a 6,000+ page bill. The printing time alone could require a good part of a day after the Chambers vote.
Once the bill hits the Governor’s desk, he’d typically need at least a solid day—possibly more—for his policy staff and lawyers to go through every key provision in the bill and make sure nothing stayed in that they agreed to take out – these types of issues can be fixed with the veto pen. Vetoes themselves are time-consuming. To get rid of something like a tax amnesty (for example) can require changes to multiple sections of the law, the bill title, and, in some cases, to the back of the bill where an emergency is declared. This is all done by hand, in red pen, in which sections of the bill to be struck are carefully boxed and each page with boxing has to be individually signed by the Governor.
Unless he actually expects to veto nothing, which we find unlikely, it’s going to be a serious challenge for the Governor to sign the bill Thursday if the Senate and House don’t pass it until Wednesday. It’ll be interesting to see who caves — does Kasich convince the House to waive its two day reading period rule, or does he get stuck signing the thing without reading it?
Should be fun all the way down to the wire.