Hite eyes budget process

An area state senator says he plans to keep a close eye on the budget process before Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget ends up in the Senate’s chamber.
On Monday, Kasich unveiled his $63.3 billion budget with state House members getting the first crack at the measure before it is passed and sent to the Senate. Until that time, state Sen. Cliff Hite said he plans to pay close attention to the testimony and proceedings that come out of the House regarding the budget.
“We are kind of in a sports metaphor, we’re the second-half guys,” Hite said. “It’s never exact or the way it’s drawn up in it’s original state. I heard some things on education I liked and I heard some things on tax reform I liked.”
Getting the opportunity to witness the House proceedings has its benefits, the state senator shared.
Hite said the copious amounts of information that flow during the budget process can help legislators hone in on certain aspects of the spending bill.
“It does give us a little bit better of an understanding so when we have our
hearings, we know where people are coming from,” Hite said. “At this point, we are getting bits and pieces. I have had calls from some superintendents who liked what they hear so far and I’ve had a couple of calls from superintendents who say we need to look at this, this and this.
“So I say at that point, we will see what the House does with it — that’s the nice thing about government with the two house Legislature,” he said. “It allows for second looks, more time to vet and for second guessing and for making improvements.”
Hite brings a unique aspect to the budget process. Before serving as the 1st District senator, Hite served in the state House for several years.
“As a House member, you are eager to get started,” Hite said. “If you like doing the work of the people and hard work — then you love this time. Then we have to sort out what we can and cannot do with the whole idea of doing what’s best for Ohio.”
Before the budget hits the Senate, Hite and his colleagues will continue to work on legislative matters within their districts while keeping an eye on the House’s budget progress.
A new approach this year is state Sen. Keith Faber, who also serves as president of the Senate, divided members into subcommittees of the Finance Committee to tackle the wide variety of issues that surface during the budget hearings.
“We will all be involved, not just the Finance Committee,” Hite said. “Being on the subcommittee, we can specialize in areas that are of our interest. I am on the Education and Economic Development Subcommittee. We will be looking at how we fund education. I like Sen. Faber’s innovative approach at dealing with the budget with these subcommittees. I think it’s a brilliant idea.”
Legislators in Columbus have until June 30 to reach a deal on the two-year spending measure.
Hite also praised Kasich’s decision to hold his State of the State address in Lima on Feb. 19. Last year, Kasich took the annual speech on the road and delivered the address in Steubenville.
“Lima has some good stories with its unemployment rates being lower than some other areas of the state,” Hite said. “I think it’s a chance for our area to showcase what we do.
“We are really proud with the progress we’ve made and the job creation that’s been here,” he said. “We have a lot of good stories.”