DeWine praises Ohio budget bill

COLUMBUS – While Governor Mike DeWine declined to go into details, he said Tuesday he expects the state budget to be signed on time and is generally happy with the biennial, $ 74 billion bill put by state lawmakers the previous day approved.

“It’s a very good budget. It’s a budget that invests in our children, it’s a budget that invests in our future. And we’ll have more to say about it tomorrow, ”DeWine said Tuesday at the Statehouse after a ceremony in which he signed a bill spending federal aid to pay off debts for the state’s unemployment fund.

“We will surely meet the deadline,” said DeWine, referring to June 30th, by which the budget must be approved. “It is always good. As I have told some of my friends in the legislature after spending 20 years in Congress when there was seldom a budget and constant resolution, this is great. “

By signing the budget on time, DeWine would avoid a repeat of 2019 when lawmakers missed the deadline by two weeks and forced them to pass a temporary spending measure as a band-aid. In that budget, DeWine’s first as governor, he imposed 25 individual vetoes, including striking health-related provisions.

In a late-night meeting on Monday, the legislature approved the draft budget, which will finance the operation of the state government for two years, but which is also full of legislative changes. Highlights include a 3% cut in income tax and a revision of the state formula to fund K-12 schools that will divert hundreds of millions more into education.

Legislators also allocated $ 250 million to expand broadband Internet networks in underserved areas, an amount DeWine originally requested. A House budget reduced the number to $ 190 million, while the original Senate budget eliminated it entirely.

DeWine’s refusal to talk about the budget involved all sorts of vetoes on line items. But among the issues it faces is a controversial provision that would allow physicians and health care providers to refuse to provide service if it violates their “conscience which is shaped by moral, ethical or religious beliefs or principles” would.

The rule is rejected by the main associations in Ohio, which represent hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies.

“The implications of this policy are immense and could create situations where patient care is unacceptably compromised,” said a letter sent to household negotiators earlier this month and from the Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio State Medical Association; and the Ohio Association of Health Plans.

The Human Rights Campaign, a major advocacy group for LGBTQ, called on DeWine to veto the provision as it could lead to discrimination in healthcare.

“This law would effectively allow doctors of all kinds to discriminate against patients, including LGBTQ people, and deny them medically necessary, often life-saving, treatment,” said Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, in a statement.

The draft budget approved both the Ohio House and the Senate with bipartisan support. Two top House Democrats, Columbus Rep. Erica Crowley, who voted for the budget, and Akron minority leader Emilia Sykes, who voted against, praised the school funding plan and the budget’s broadband funding.

But they also listed items they would like to see removed from the budget, including the health care refusal and 3% tax cuts. Also on the Democrats’ veto list is a provision that allows lawmakers to hire lawyers at state expense to bring redistribution or other legal challenges; Language preventing the foreign minister from working with private groups on voter education; Language Enabling Parents To Exclude Their Children From Sex Education Classes New restrictions on abortion providers working under deviations from hospital transfer contracts by contracting doctors instead; expanding vouchers for private schools and permanently imposing a ban on plastic bags and other disposable containers for local communities.

Many other provisions have been added, removed, or left in the budget presented Monday by a conference committee of lawmakers acting as the lead budget negotiator, including:

Provisions to impose additional government supervision on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. DeWine first applied for authority to impose fines and close nursing homes with security issues. The House watered down the plan by setting lower fines and allowing nursing homes to request public hearings challenging the orders. The Senate had removed the provisions altogether, but the final version is similar to the proposal by the House of Representatives.

Eliminating a Senate provision that would have required the state to redo a massive managed care Medicaid contract, in a possible nod to ProMedica, a Toledo company that lost an offer for the job. However, the final version retains the language that will give Ohio-based businesses and existing vendors preferential treatment going forward, a description that fits both Paramount and CareSource of Dayton. Loren Anthes, an analyst with the Center for Community Solutions, a Cleveland think tank advocating social services, said the recent changes appear to allay his concerns that the regulations are anti-competitive.

The money and powers to build a nationwide database to document police shootings and incidents of violence remained on budget. DeWine requested the database, but the Senate removed it from its budget.

The budget would allow ex-commuters to claim tax refunds for 2021 from cities where they drove to work earlier but no longer. In the final version, a House proposal was cut that would also have allowed them to collect reimbursements for 2020. The commuter tax issue stems from a March 2020 change in law that allowed employers to continue withholding taxes from home office workers as if they were commuting to work in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Cities have said the refunds could cripple their households, but conservative groups and taxpayer advocates think it’s unfair to force commuters to pay taxes to cities where they no longer spend time.

A provision has been removed from the final budget stating that neither side is entitled to legal counsel in a private adoption case, even if they cannot afford a lawyer. The Ohio State Bar Association had stated the provision contradicted a 2020 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The final version of the budget did not include a provision, backed by Senate President Matt Huffman, that would likely have increased property taxes on low-income housing projects by changing how they account for federal subsidies when setting property values. The change was opposed by housing advocates who said it could create financial problems for low-income housing facilities. But the budget created a committee to look into the issue, a joint legislative compromise.

DeWine told reporters he was “happy” with the $ 250 million included for broadband expansion and said there were “very real and significant” funds for local law enforcement, including $ 10 million for local ones Law enforcement officers to get body cameras. He doesn’t seem to consider that when negotiations began, lawmakers cut some of their top priorities from the budget, including blocking a package of DeWine reforms targeting gun violence and distracted driving.

“We’ll do that again tomorrow,” DeWine told reporters. “So we’re going to do all of this again. We’ll have another happy day to talk about the budget. ”

Governor Mike DeWine speaks Tuesday at the Ohio Statehouse with Republican State Representative Mark Fraizer of Newark (left) and Lt. Governor Jon Husted (right).

Comments are closed.