5% Debt Service Limitation
Section 17 of Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution, approved by Ohio voters in November 1999, establishes an annual debt service "cap" applicable to future issuances of state direct obligations payable from the general revenue fund (GRF) or net State lottery proceeds. Generally, new obligations may not be issued if debt service for any future fiscal year on those new and the then outstanding bonds of those categories would exceed 5 percent of the total of estimated GRF revenues plus net state lottery proceeds for the fiscal year of issuance.
Those direct obligations of the state include general obligation and special obligation bonds that are paid from the state's GRF, but exclude (i) general obligation debt for Third Frontier Research and Development, development of sites and facilities, and veterans compensation, and (ii) general obligation debt payable from non-GRF funds (such as highway bonds that are paid from highway user receipts). Pursuant to the implementing legislation, the governor has designated the OBM Director as the State official responsible for making the 5 percent determinations and certifications. Application of the 5 percent cap may be waived in a particular instance by a three-fifths vote of each house of the Ohio General Assembly and may be changed by future constitutional amendments.
Updated: August 7, 2019