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.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

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