WCBE_Header_Final_2.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
If you have a question or comment about WCBE's new programming lineup, please call 614-365-6655 and leave us a message!

Budget Dominated Many Of State Lawmakers Decisions In 2017

statehouse_rotunda__credit_dan_konik__0.jpg
Dan Konik
/

This was a budget year, and there was a looming deficit lawmakers had to deal with. That took up a lot of lawmakers' time, but they passed other laws affecting baseball, sales tax breaks and workers' compensation. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles runs down a list of some of the major things that passed.  

At the beginning of 2017, as President Trump took office, Ohio lawmakers were focused on what to put in the new two-year state budget. Governor John Kasich wanted another personal income tax cut offset with tax increases. But as lawmakers looked over his budget, state revenues kept coming in well under estimates. That forced Republican state leaders to cut $800 million from the spending plan. Kasich said in April that nothing was off limits when considering cuts. “Everything has to be under the microscope. You can’t, you just can’t say willy-nilly you’re just going exempt all this. But we’ll be sensitive about areas we have to be sensitive about, but decisions have to be made.”

 

But by the deadline at the end of June, lawmakers approved a $133 billion dollar budget that lowered taxes farmers pay, lifted a freeze on tuition at state colleges and allowed video poker games at racinos….a move that’s expected to mean $25 million dollars in state coffers during that period. It also spent $123 billion in state and federal funds to fight the opioid crisis. What it didn’t contain was the 17% proposed income tax cuts and tax hikes on oil and gas drillers, on tobacco products, wine and beer. Lawmakers like Republican Senate President Larry Obhof praised the budget for being fiscally responsible.

 

“This budget is not pain free. Many government agencies, including the Senate, will see substantial cuts.”

The budget lawmakers passed, however, included cuts and restrictions to the Medicaid program. Kasich rejected those, as part of a record 47 budget vetoes.  That led to a showdown between Kasich and the Republican dominated legislature. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger indicated those vetoes were not going to be allowed to stand.

“There’s some issues members are extremely passionate about.”

Indeed, legislators in the House and Senate came back in late summer to override six of those vetoes, most dealing with Medicaid, but they didn’t override the biggest one that would have frozen Medicaid expansion enrollment. They could still override those vetoes any time before the end of 2018.

 

Lawmakers also passed a $581 million workers' compensation budget that shortened times for processing disability cases but added health, wellness and safety education. But it didn’t contain the most controversial proposed change that would have blocked benefits for undocumented workers.

Ohioans got a break in August when they sent their kids back to school after a law was passed that allowed a sales tax holiday on clothing and selected school items. The last time the state allowed one was back in 2015. Alex Burnka of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants says Ohioans saved $3.3 million back then. The non-partisan Legislative Services Commission said the holiday would cost $14.7 million over that weekend but Burnka says he thinks there is something else to consider.

“You know they are getting that savings on the textbook but they are also buying some food, some groceries or other items that are not exempt.”

There’s a new law on the books that imposes longer prison sentences on attackers who intentionally disfigure their victims by using accelerants to set them on fire. It’s a measure known as Judy’s Law, named after Columbus resident Judy Milanowski who was seriously burned by her ex-boyfriend and suffered in a hospital for nearly two years before dying just a day before lawmakers passed the bill she and her family fought for. Kasich was surrounded by her family as he signed the bill into law.

“Maybe there’s more we can do. Maybe there’s more we can do to think about how we can provide a safe haven, not just a safe haven but a wonderful haven and incubator to grow women into all they can be because without them, we are missing. ... We are not complete.”

And October 7 will be the first official Moses Fleetwood Walker Day to celebrate his accomplishments as an Ohioan who became the first African American player to play major league baseball. Passage of that bill came just days before the Cleveland Indians lost a heartbreaker to the New York Yankees in the American League championship.

 

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
Related Content