COLUMBUS -- Republican leaders in the Ohio House say it's balanced.
Democrats in that chamber say it's not.
The budget director says the numbers offered by the House GOP do add up, though Gov. John Kasich's administration isn't supporting some of the policy changes that went into the calculations.
And the Republican head of the Ohio Senate said bigger cuts are on the way, as actual tax and other collections continue to come in below earlier projections.
Mixed into the discussion are lots of numbers -- some in the millions, some in the billions -- that paint a sometimes-confusing picture to everyday, non-accountant-type Ohioans.
What's it all mean?
Here's a rundown of some of the numbers you're going to hear as the Ohio House and Senate and Kasich continue deliberations on the biennial budget, heading toward an expected enactment by July 1:
12: Or, to be more precise, Article XII, Section 4. That's the part of the state constitution that requires lawmakers to pass a balanced budget.
It reads, "The General Assembly shall provide for raising revenue, sufficient to defray the expenses of the state, for each year, and also a sufficient sum to pay principal and interest as they become due on the state debt."
Translated, that means lawmakers have an obligation to make sure any spending authority they approve doesn't outpace taxes and other revenues that the state expects to receive.
$2 billion: That plus some change is what's currently in the rainy day fund, the money the state has set aside to deal with any budget issues in the future. It's essentially a savings account that can be tapped when revenues and expenditures get out of whack.
Democrats and some Republicans have mentioned the budget stabilization fund as a potential source of money to boost efforts to combat drug addiction or to cover shortfalls in the new biennial budget.
But state budget Director Tim Keen said the administration does not support using the rainy day fund as part of the initial two-year budget legislation; rather, the funds are there to deal with issues that come up during the year.
It could be tapped a few months into the new fiscal year or if something happens during the current one.
"If there were a calamitous event that occurred in the next couple of months, I would not rule out the use of the rainy day fund to ensure [fiscal 2017] ends in balance," Keen said.
He added he does not expect that to be the case; current projections have the state ending the year in the black.
"There is no plan to use the rainy day fund at this time.," he said.
$66.9 billion: Kasich's executive budget outlined about $33.1 billion in general revenue fund spending for fiscal 2018 and about $33.8 billion in fiscal '19.
You may also have read a bigger number -- $144 billion-plus for the coming biennium -- in relation to the budget. That total accounts for all budget fund groups, including the general fund.
On the one hand, the administration says the bigger number is a better, more holistic reflection of the state's handling of public funds.
On the other, the all-funds total includes some double-counted spending, agencies funded by fees and money that isn't even state spending, such as tax refunds or county sales taxes.
$800 million: Throw an "at least" before that number and you have the adjustment that lawmakers and the administration announced they would have to make to what Kasich proposed in his executive budget. That change will be achieved through a mix of spending cuts and so-called "revenue enhancements."
Kasich, Keen, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced the total during a press conference last month. It was something of an unusual move: OBM usually updates budget projections in June, during lawmakers' conference committee deliberations.
$63.7 billion: The version of the budget passed by the House outlined $31.6 billion in spending for fiscal 2018 and $32.1 billion for '19, or $63.7 billion in total.
But that doesn't mean the House cut $3 billion-plus from the executive proposal. Accounting and policy changes, including a move to give lawmakers more control over Medicaid spending, makes comparing the executive and House general revenue fund spending totals problematic.
-$773.7 million: That's the difference between what the administration estimated would be collected in taxes through the end of April versus what was actually collected for the year to date.
Tax collections have been coming in below estimates for months, with continued underperformance in income tax withholding and non-auto sales taxes.
April's results, released a few days ago, were lower than expected, due to higher-than-expected refunds (about $82 million above the estimate), Keen said.
$1.2 billion: But state expenditures also have been coming in below initial estimates, driven mainly for the year by efforts to control Medicaid spending.
Through April, general revenue fund disbursements were more than $1.2 billion under estimates, with Medicaid accounting for nearly $873 million of that total.
$630-some million: That's what House Republicans say is the difference between the amended budget bill and OBM's earlier projections.
Meaning the latest version of the legislation technically is in balance, though lawmakers didn't reach the $800 million needed.
"We're $630 million to the good," House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) told reporters following the chamber's vote on the bill.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) added, "We passed a sound budget that's balanced, that's under the rate of inflation, that's conservative Yes, this budget is balanced. We passed a fiscally balanced budget with the numbers that we have to look at."
The $630-some million was computed through a combination of cuts and spending increases, according to calculations provided by OBM.
Among other changes: About $113 million was removed by axing the governor's tax reform measures; nearly $474 million was from in Medicaid-related reductions; nearly $193 million came from targeted cuts outside of Medicaid; close to $106 million in additional money would be generated by lottery-related changes, including allowing video poker at racinos, and $17 million would be raised by the sale of former state prison farm and properties.
The numbers, according to OBM's calculations, would result in more than $204 million in cost savings in fiscal 2018 and about $429 million in '19.
"Having reviewed that list, I see how they made that calculation," Keen said of the $630 million-plus total mentioned by Smith. "They did not get to the [$800 million] but they made substantial progress from their perspective."
He added, "The administration doesn't necessarily agree with the policy decisions that the House has made to arrive at that $632 million I would not quarrel with the math, ours is more of a policy disagreement with what they have done."
$10 billion: Front and center of those policy disagreements is the Medicaid program and its expanded-eligibility population, an area of contention between the Kasich administration and many legislative Republicans.
Keen told the Senate Finance Committee that House changes amounted to a $5 billion per fiscal year reduction in Medicaid, with about one-fifth of the spending in the program that provides health and other services to needy residents moved to a separate line.
House Republicans added language to the budget requiring the administration to seek additional spending authority from the Controlling Board "not more than once every six months," creating a challenge, Keen said, for covering the ongoing costs of the program.
"We have to have planning certainty," he said. "We have to know that we have revenues to pay for the program that we have at hand From a budgeting and planning perspective this amendment is wholly impractical."
Something else to consider: Keen said the Medicaid changes can't be line-item vetoed by the governor without affecting funding needed for the program. The House moved the spending authority into a different line-item, and a veto would cut the appropriation altogether.
A line-item veto "doesn't solve the problem," Keen said, adding later of the Medicaid changes added by the House, "We will advocate pretty strongly throughout the remainder of the process that that is not appropriate policy prescription."
$170 million: Smith and Rosenberger emphasized that the budget process this year isn't different from other cycles. OBM and the Legislative Service Commission provide projections early in the process, then update their numbers before the final bill passes.
Senators are already making clear that they'll make further cuts, given the difference between the $632 million in savings proposed by the House and the $800 million-plus in adjustments that have to be made.
During one of this week's Senate Finance Committee sessions, Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) questioned Keen about the Senate's task ahead.
"Is it our responsibility then simply just to come up with an additional $170 million worth of cuts and it's a balanced budget?" he asked.
Keen responded, "Based on if [$800 million] is the number, in one sense the answer to that question is yes."
Obhof said the Senate is going to have a "robust committee process" as it takes up the House-passed budget and makes additional cuts.
"There is a gap," he said. " We anticipate an $800 million gap, at a minimum We're going to close it I think right now, the Senate's primary focus for the next few weeks is going to be figuring out how we close an $800 million gap and make sure that the final version of the budget gets us at least that far."
$400 million: That's how out of balance House Democrats say the House-amended budget is.
And they blame Kasich and Statehouse Republicans for tax cuts and other policy changes in recent years.
"We are seeing the effects of six years of fiscally irresponsible budgets under Ohio Republicans," Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) said in a released statement. "Shifting the burden of taxes to working families and local communities while the wealthiest Ohioans see thousands in cuts has not only hurt growth in Ohio, it's led to an $800 million budget hole. This fantasy budget is not balanced as required by Ohio law and does not solve the pressing issues facing our communities -- jobs, education and relief for families struggling with addiction. I cannot knowingly support a budget that leaves so many Ohioans behind."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.