News: MBR to be heard by multiple committees; no details on tax plan

According to a report in Gongwer, Speaker Batchelder indicates that legislators may hold hearings without having had an opportunity to read the details of Governor Kasich’s complex tax plan to increase severance taxes on drillers and set up a trigger that would decrease the state income tax in future years. According to Gongwer (subscription required):

Speaker Batchelder said it was “conceivable” the bill would be passed out of the chamber the week after next, but he does not know if that is possible because the House does not yet have the bill language.

Some of you may remember that last year, the administration failed to introduce its 2012-2013 biennium budget bill in time for the March 15 deadline, instead providing only the blue book for legislators to work from, and at least ten days of hearings took place in which legislators had no actual text to work from or ask questions. Unlike last year, there is no requirement for budget hearings to begin immediately—or for there to be a budget passed at all—so it’s unclear why there is a rush to hold press conferences and hearings if the actual text of the policy proposals is not yet available.

Speaker Batchelder

The Speaker also indicates that because of its many policy proposals, the bill will be split in two, as we have previously reported, and will be heard by multiple committees, giving members of the Finance Committee a bit of a break. However, Batchelder has not ruled out holding hearings during what would otherwise be the General Assembly’s spring break—the first two weeks of April. (close observers will recall they just took three weeks off prior to the primary, so in all, not a bad gig).

The first hearing on the MBR is this morning at 9 a.m. We will not be attending, but if you follow us on Twitter, we’ll direct you to folks who are live-tweeting the hearing and retweet some of the best stuff.

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