With the state operating budget slated for a vote in the House, Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) today commended the efforts of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee to craft a responsible budget while at the same time instituting many substantial improvements to the committee process.
The committee heard testimony on House Bill 59 from 131 witnesses and spent more than 69 hours in committee deliberating the budget. Additionally, it made historic efforts to not only make the committee more modernized and efficient, but also to bring the budget discussions to the homes of every Ohioan by broadcasting hearings online.
By using iPads to access committee materials such as testimony, bill language, amendments, comparison documents, and other supporting materials, the Finance and Appropriations Committee significantly improved the efficiency of the committee’s operations. As a result of the paperless pilot project, the House saved thousands of dollars in the cost of paper and other overhead solely during the budget process. Additionally, reduced printing demands allowed the House to close a bill room, which will save $31,500 annually.
Furthermore, the House took an unprecedented step to make the budget process more transparent and accessible by streaming the Finance and Appropriations Committee online on the House web site. A cumulative total of more than 331,000 visitors streamed the committee hearings, with over 13,000 unique visitors to the Finance and Appropriations Committee web site since January. The committee also posted documents to the web site for public examination.
Speaker Batchelder released the following statement on the committee’s work and efficiencies:
“I am very appreciative of all the time and effort that Chairman Amstutz and the members of the Finance and Appropriations Committee devoted to this endeavor. Not only did they ensure that the budget bill is steadfast in our commitment to Ohio’s economy and competitiveness, but they also did so in a way that opened the doors of the entire process to all Ohioans. The opportunity for Ohioans to watch committee hearings from the comfort of their homes or wherever they may be, including on their mobile devices, is a new and exciting program that was a great success during these budget proceedings. We also made efficiency a priority by going paperless and digitalizing our materials, which emulates a method that many private-sector businesses already employ. The way in which the Finance and Appropriations Committee hearings were operated with such efficiency is a testament to Chairman Amstutz’s dedication to an open and transparent process.”