Ohio is operating on temporary funding since lawmakers failed to pass a new two-year state budget by the constitutionally-mandated June 30 deadline. The delay has Democrats wondering whether time spent on controversial abortion laws could have better used hammering out budget details.
State Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) says Republicans have control over both the Ohio Senate and House, as well as the executive branch. So he thinks it’s ridiculous the budget wasn’t passed on time.
“This is a deadline that we knew was coming and we were unable to meet it, which is frustrating,” Brown says. “And then we look at how much time was spent on various issues such as the so-called ‘Heartbeat Bill.’”
That bill, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law in April, has been put on hold by a federal judge following a lawsuit by abortion rights groups and health care providers.
The “Heartbeat Bill” was scheduled to take effect on July 10, and would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected—around five or six weeks. That’s before many women know they’re pregnant, and as a result would ban almost all abortions in Ohio. The bill would also add criminal and other penalties for doctors who performed abortions.
The judge’s order allows clinics to continue performing abortions while legal arguments continue, saying that the law is likely to be ruled unconstitutional. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has vowed to appeal the decision.
In a written statement, Gail Crawley, spokesperson for Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, says the House began hearings on its budget before DeWine unveiled his proposal in March. She notes House committees heard 135 hours of testimony from more than 600 witnesses.
Crawley also says the abortion bill, which was debated in a separate committee, had zero impact on the budget bill.
Under the temporary funding measure passed by the legislature Ohio will maintain funding at current levels until July 17. Both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate budget proposals passed overwhelmingly, but the chambers remain divided over tax cuts, education and health care.