The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 28, 2013

Ohio Legislature passes $62B, 2-year state budget

COLUMBUS — A state budget that cuts personal income taxes, revamps Ohio’s school-funding system and imposes new abortion restrictions cleared the state Legislature on Thursday over the objections of both Democrats and some Republicans.

Next stop for the $62 billion, two-year spending blueprint is the desk of Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it — with likely line-item vetoes — by a Sunday deadline.

The Ohio Senate passed the bill 21-11, with Sen. Kris Jordan the only GOP defection. In the Republican-dominated Ohio House, the bill eked out a 53-44 majority with seven Republicans opposed.

House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz, a Wooster Republican, said he was disappointed in all the disappointment in a bill that involved so much time and compromise. He said the proposal would help families and Ohioans who are aspiring to be in a better place financially, make better wages and live a higher quality of life.

“That’s why we’re here,” he said. “That’s our purpose, to make our state stronger than it would otherwise be.”

Republicans were particularly proud of the $2.7 billion in overall tax cuts delivered over three years under the bill, including a phased in income-tax cut for individuals and small businesses.

The provision represents a political victory for Kasich, who made a campaign pledge to cut income taxes and faces re-election next year. It phases in a 10-percent cut over three years culminating in 2015.

The cut is partly paid for by increasing the state sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent. The bill also calls for applying the tax to digital goods, such as e-books and music downloads. Kasich’s earlier proposal to hike taxes on oil and gas drilling was excluded.

Democrats attacked the thrust of the tax changes, saying the income-tax cut would disproportionately benefit wealthier Ohioans while sales tax changes would hurt those struggling to make ends meet.

Rep. Mike Foley, a Cleveland Democrat, said the tax package was based on “greed and selfishness.” He said budgets are moral documents that reflect the principles and values of a society.

“Based on the content of this document, I believe that we are failing,” he said.

Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said wealthier residents pay more taxes — and so naturally receive a bigger share of cuts.

“Them that pays the most, will benefit the most when we cut rates. That’s just the math, that’s not an argument, that’s math,” he said.

Senate President Keith Faber took the rare step of leaving his leader’s perch to defend the bill.

“I respectfully submit to everyone in this chamber the comment that President Obama made last year during his campaign trail is just as true today as it was then: ‘You can’t drive the car into a ditch and expect us to give you back the keys,”’ Faber said. “The car is back on the road, and that’s a road to Ohio recovery.”

The budget adjusts how Ohio calculates the state’s share of funding to public school districts and community schools, increasing the amount schools receive per pupil to $5,745 in 2014 and $5,800, but eliminates a 12.5 percent property-tax subsidy that the state had been paying on new levies imposed by school districts, libraries and other public entities.

Democrats registered their harshest criticism of the day at Republicans’ failure to include an expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program in the bill.

Sen. Capri Cafaro, a Hubbard Democrat, called the decision cowardly, heartless and short-sighted.

“I have to admit, you can probably tell, that I have never been so angry, so appalled and so heartbroken by the actions of the General Assembly,” she said.

Cafaro appealed to Kasich to “do what’s right, follow your moral compass, and veto the language in this budget that stops our state from extending health coverage to hard-working Ohioans.”

Among hundreds of provisions in the bill was a last-minute amendment requiring Ohio doctors to inform women seeking abortions in writing whether a fetal heartbeat is present. Abortion-rights supporters were on the scene to protest the measure, with several escorted out for shouting “Shame on you, shame on you!” after the budget passed.

Rep. Terry Boose, a Norwalk Republican, said the bill’s 500-plus pages were filled with way too many unrelated policy items.

“Send us your numbers, but leave your policy out of it,” he said. “We need to stand strong as a group and say the budget is the budget. The budget is numbers. The budget isn’t policy.”

Democratic Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood responded, “Brother, I agree,” and proceeded to criticize provisions addressing women’s reproductive health.

Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Woman, teenager found dead in Lake Erie; 2 missing

    The bodies of two of four missing boaters were recovered in western Lake Erie on Thursday, a day after the group left for an afternoon of fishing and sent pictures to relatives.

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

    April 18, 2014

  • Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

    Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.

    April 17, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals

    Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms.

    April 17, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video