Gov. John Kasich used his line-item-veto pen 22 times before signing Ohio’s $62 billion, two-year budget into law Sunday night, but he left intact several controversial provisions seen as restricting abortion.
The Blade/Lori King
COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich used his line-item-veto pen 22 times before signing Ohio’s $62 billion, two-year budget into law Sunday night, but he left intact several controversial provisions seen as restricting abortion.
Highlights of the budget signed into law by Gov. John Kasich include:
■ 10 percent income tax cut for all taxpayers phased in over three years, starting at 8.5 percent this year.
■ Exempt Toledo Mud Hens from paying sales tax and forgive past-due tax bill of $553,389.
■ 50 percent income tax cut on the first $250,000 earned by small business owners.
■ Additional $717 million in K-12 basic education subsides over two years above what schools received in current budget.
■ Provide $250 million in grants to encourage K-12 schools to implement cost-saving innovations.
■ Allow local governments to meet privately to discuss business requests for economic development incentives.
■ Promise that the state will no longer pay the first 12.5 percent on any new or replacement levies that voters approve, beginning with those on the ballot in November (payments will continue on existing levies and renewals).
■ Provide $600,000 for a new forensic research and training program at Bowling Green State University in anticipation of construction of a new attorney general crime lab.
■ Include cigarette-look-alike small cigars called cigarillos under higher cigarette tax rate.
■ Create a nonrefundable earned-income tax credit for low-income taxpayers.
The Republican governor did strike language viewed as posing a barrier to progress on expanding Medicaid and blocking greater federal support for the program while talks continue on the broader expansion that he has sought.
Mr. Kasich left immediately after signing the budget without taking questions from reporters about his veto decisions.
The budget promises a net $2.6 billion tax cut, consisting chiefly of a 10 percent across-the-board income tax for all taxpayers over three years and a 50 percent cut on the first $250,000 earned by small businesses.
“I’m proud of the tax cuts because I think it’s another installment in Ohio’s comeback,” Mr. Kasich said.
But it also comes with some trade-offs, including a hike in the state sales tax from 5.5 cents on the dollar to 5.75 cents. The budget also draws the line on its subsidization of future local property tax bills, saying the state will no longer pay the first 12.5 percent on any new levies that voters approve beginning with those on November’s ballot.
The budget holds $717 million more over the next two years for K-12 schools, an 11 percent increase. It does not fully make up for cuts schools suffered in the current budget, in part because of the expiration of one-time federal stimulus dollars.
Pro-choice advocates had placed all their hopes on stopping the abortion restrictions from taking place on Mr. Kasich.
“Kasich’s agenda is clear — to put politicians in charge of women’s personal, private medical decisions, even in cases of rape or incest or when a woman is faced with serious threats to her health,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
The provisions included language limiting the options for abortion clinics to get emergency care transfer agreements that they must have with local hospitals by prohibiting publicly funded hospitals from entering into such arrangements. Toledo’s Center for Choice recently closed because it couldn’t get such an agreement.
A last-minute addition requires a doctor to perform an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat and then offer to let the woman seeking an abortion hear or see that heartbeat. The budget also places Planned Parenthood at the end of the line when it comes to distributing Ohio’s limited share of federal family planning funds.
“It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them,” said Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president.
Mr. Kasich also chose not to exercise his line-item veto authority to strike language that would allow local government bodies to meet behind closed doors in executive session to discuss economic-incentive packages for businesses.
The budget Mr. Kasich signed still contains many of the priorities he spelled out in his own budget proposal that started this process more than four months ago, even though his GOP colleagues in the legislature removed his proposed expansion of Medicaid eligibility to those earning up to 38 percent over the federal poverty level under the federal health-care law. That’s $32,000 a year for a family of four.
The General Assembly also added a prohibition that would have blocked the state’s acceptance of federal funding to cover 100 percent of the cost of those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty line, a population for whom federal law already mandates coverage.
In his veto message, Mr. Kasich said this would lead to an increase in uncompensated costs and a shift of those costs onto businesses and individuals with health insurance.
Other language that Mr. Kasich vetoed included:
● A sales tax exemption for metal coins and bullions that had been discontinued after the Coingate scandal involving the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s investment of $50 million in rare coin funds operated by former Toledo area coin dealer Tom Noe.
● Extra funding for nursing homes on top of what a revised Medicaid formula would provide.
● Mandated collection of the sales tax on Internet sales by out-of-state companies shipping into Ohio, which Mr. Kasich noted flies in the face of the federal government’s authority over interstate commerce.
● An exemption for spider monkeys from new state restrictions on the ownership of wild animals. Mr. Kasich characterized this exemption as an “unjustified step backward.”
● A sales tax exemption for research and development by the aerospace industry, a broad exemption for which Mr. Kasich said there is no justification.
● A staff-hiring mandate related to how schools must spend their state subsidies for gifted programs.
● Authorization for licensed chiropractors to assess the condition of and clear student athletes with concussions.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.