COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign a $71.2 billion spending blueprint Tuesday that continues his expansion of the Medicaid health program and provides an Ohio income tax cut, though he plans to strike some items from the sweeping measure.
The Republican governor hasn’t said on which provisions he will use his line-item veto authority, though he told reporters last week that one Medicaid-related idea was “a little clunky.” He also said he had concerns about areas he saw as eroding executive authority.
The budget plan spends $955 million more in basic state aid for K-12 schools than the last two-year period, with no district getting less than what it got this year. It also boosts state funding for higher education to help offset a two-year tuition freeze at public universities. Colleges also must propose ways to reduce student costs by 5 percent.
The spending measure would provide a 6.3 percent state income tax cut beginning in tax year 2015 as a part of a roughly $1.9 billion net tax reduction. That would lower the top income tax rate to just below 5 percent.
“What we’ve achieved here we should be able to crow about from the roof of this Capitol and across our great state,” Kasich said last week.
Smokers would see a 35-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes under the bill, which also set aside money for police training, eliminates special elections in February and prohibits independent health care and child care workers under contract with the state from unionizing.
The spending plan does not include a proposed tax increase on Ohio oil-and-gas drillers that had been a priority for Kasich.
Instead, legislative leaders announced earlier this month that a task force would review the issue and report back by Oct. 1.
Kasich says he will continue to push for the idea and believed the leaders were serious about achieving something.