PROJECTOhio

State Fiscal Briefs

May 2022

Looking for Ohio data related to the pandemic? We have health, economic, and fiscal data on our new tool, How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Transforming State Budgets.

Ohio’s budget basics

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Ohio’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $81.2 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.

Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.

Per the US Census Bureau, Ohio’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $112.7 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,636 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.

Ohio’s largest spending areas per capita were public welfare ($2,533) and elementary and secondary education ($2,234). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.

Ohio’s combined state and local general revenues were $112.4 billion in FY 2019, or $9,610 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Ohio does not levy a corporate income tax but reports some revenue because it has a special tax on financial institutions. Ohio’s main business tax is its gross receipts tax. (Census counts gross receipts tax revenue as general sales tax revenue or selective sales tax revenue.) After federal transfers, Ohio’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($1,613), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and property taxes ($1,397).

Ohio’s politics

Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, was elected in 2018 with 50 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022.

Republicans control both the House of Representatives (64 Republicans to 34 Democrats) and Senate (25 Republicans to 8 Democrats), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in Ohio. All Ohio House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms; roughly half the senatorial seats are on the ballot in 2022, and the other half will be up for election in 2024.

Ohio’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints

Ohio uses a biennial budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. Ohio further limits spending growth with a budget rule based on the previous year’s spending, inflation, and population growth. The rule is binding and requires a two-thirds legislative supermajority to override it. Ohio also limits total authorized debt and debt service incurred by the state.

(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)

Ohio’s current budget

Governor DeWine has not released a supplemental budget proposal (the state uses a biennial budget) and has not given his state of the state address in 2022.

Ohio enacted its FY 2022-2023 biennial budget in June 2021. The enacted budget included $80.8 billion in total spending for FY 2022 and $81.1 for FY 2023. As part of the budget, Ohio passed a series of tax cuts including lowering the state’s top individual income tax rate from 4.797 percent to 3.99 percent.

Under the American Rescue Plan, Ohio will receive $5.4 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $4.4 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Ohio had spent part of its ARP funds on unemployment insurance, capital construction, and public health programs.

According to NASBO, Ohio’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:

  • FY 2021: $22.9 billion/$81.2 billion

  • FY 2020: $22.5 billion/$74.6 billion

  • FY 2019: $22.8 billion/$71.0 billion

For more on Ohio’s budget, see