On Feb. 1, Gov. Mike DeWine released his State Budget proposal for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022-2023. The administration remains focused on economic recovery and has launched the Investing In Ohio Initiative in the budget proposals. This initiative consists of nearly a billion dollars of one-time spending relief to support small businesses, strengthen Ohio’s communities, help grow a skilled workforce, and tell Ohio’s story via a marketing plan.
Public Library Fund
The executive budget includes a commitment to Ohio’s public libraries by providing funding at statutory levels in Fiscal Year 2022 and Fiscal Year 2023. We do not know yet if this will be included in the permanent law section of the bill or the temporary law section. Once it is officially introduced and we have the actual bill language, we will provide more information. As of right now, they are anticipating bill language being ready the week of Feb. 8, 2021.
According to the Blue Book, the Office of Budget and Management has made the following PLF distribution estimates:
- FY 2021: $430,000,000
- FY 2022: $428,000,000 (-0.5% decrease)
- FY 2023: $443,000,000 (3.5% increase)
The governor’s budget proposal also makes a commitment to help address the digital divide by increasing access to high-speed internet and digital resources throughout the state by investing $200 million to expand access to broadband for Ohio households that lack basic connectivity necessary to be part of the modern economy, modern education system and modern healthcare system. This investment provides direct grants to internet service providers to expand their network and to build conduits along limited access interstate rights of way that can then be leased out to companies for long haul and middle-mile infrastructure.
The proposal also provides $50 million to help companies provide low-cost internet by paying infrastructure costs, leveraging state assets, and matching funds in order to draw down federal dollars to make broadband more affordable in both urban and rural areas.
Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library
Governor DeWine continues to stress the importance of early childhood literacy through the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. The budget proposal provides $16 million to continue the Governor’s Imagination Library, providing all Ohio children with a monthly book for the first five years of their lives.
We are still reviewing the 591-page Blue Book and will provide additional details as the budget process moves forward. Keep in mind that this is just the beginning of a long process. Additional budget documents can be found at budget.Ohio.gov.
In addition, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to meet this Thursday at 10 a.m. At that time, the committee will hear from Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks, Legislative Service Commission Director Wendy Zhan and Ohio Tax Commissioner Jeff McClain.
State Budget Advocacy Webinar
Now that Gov. DeWine has unveiled the state budget, the Ohio House of Representatives will begin their work. This will be an extremely important time as the OLC and its Institutional Member Libraries continue their advocacy efforts to restore state funding for public libraries through the Public Library Fund (PLF). To prepare library directors, fiscal officers and trustees to work with the members of the Ohio General Assembly, the OLC will be hosting a free webinar next Mon., Feb. 8 from 2-3:30 p.m.