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Thu. 11:13am: Ohio lawmakers near vote on $62B state budget

June 27, 2013
Tribune Chronicle |

COLUMBUS (AP) - After months of wrangling, state lawmakers are preparing to grant final approval to the massive policy document that lays out Ohio's spending priorities for the next two years.

The $62 billion state operating budget is scheduled for floor votes in both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate today, with Republican Gov. John Kasich facing a Sunday deadline to sign it.

The voluminous bill delivers $2.7 billion in tax reductions over three years to individuals and small businesses, revises Ohio's school-funding formula and changes health care programs.

Other provisions affect policies on abortion, exotic animals, e-schools and campaign finances.

Absent from the legislation are Kasich's proposals to increase taxes on oil and gas drillers and to expand Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program, under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The energy tax hike, which Kasich intended to fund income-tax reductions, faced strong and vocal opposition from the well-funded oil and gas industry, which is aggressively exploring newly accessible natural gas and oil stores in shale layers under eastern Ohio.

Fact Box

A look at the Ohio budget before state lawmakers

The Associated Press

Some of the highlights of Ohio's two-year, $62 billion budget being voted on today, plus some of the policies that have been dropped from the spending plan:


- INCOME TAX CUT: Reduces the statewide income tax rate gradually over three years, beginning with an 8.5 percent tax in 2013 and moving to a 10 percent tax reduction by 2015. That's down from the governor's proposed 20 percent.

- SMALL BUSINESSES: Provides small businesses with a 50 percent tax cut on the first $250,000 in net business income, compared to the first $750,000 the governor had pitched.

- SALES TAX INCREASE: Increases the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent; applies it to digital products such as e-books and music.

- ABORTION: Requires abortion providers to inform pregnant women in writing about the presence of a fetal heartbeat before the procedure.

- FAMILY PLANNING: Makes changes to send Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for public family-planning money.

- OPEN MEETINGS: Allows public bodies to meet in closed session to consider the terms of an application for economic development assistance; requires a unanimous vote; specifies the exception applies only to the body's consideration of confidential information, such as the applicant's marketing plans and specific business strategy.


- MEDICAID: The governor's proposed expansion of Medicaid to make roughly 366,000 low-income residents eligible for coverage beginning in 2014 and qualify the state for about $13 billion from the federal government to cover program costs over the next seven years.

- SEX EDUCATION: A House-committee proposal barring distribution of contraceptives on school property and subjecting teachers to litigation for promoting unspecified activities considered gateways to sex.

- CASINOS: A requirement that casinos to keep patron photos for five years, which was aimed at making it easier for law enforcement to track and clamp down on money laundering.

- E-SCHOOLS: An exemption for students enrolled in e-schools from the physical education requirement to graduate from high school.

- SALES TAX EXPANSION: The governor's tax reduction and broadening that would have taken the rate from 5.5 percent to 5 percent then extended the tax to a new list of items, including legal services and entertainment events.

- OIL & GAS TAX: Severance tax increases on oil and natural gas extraction that would have generated an estimated $200 million for the state general fund, local governments and libraries.

Source: AP Research.



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