Amid a more than $1 billion financial shortfall, Ohio’s legislative Republicans pushed state budget negotiations closer to the brink Tuesday and today with eleventh hour horse-trading over a Medicaid lockout and complex money maneuvers, leaving Gov. John Kasich less than 48 hours to review the state budget, House Bill 49, before the start of the new fiscal year.


“I voted against the state budget because the revenue stream is dishonest and irresponsible,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “State tax collections have missed revenue projections 10 times in 11 months. In doing so, it shortchanges our future. The Republican philosophy of tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans while cutting schools, communities and services hasn't created economic stability, better paying jobs or real economic growth. Under Governor Kasich, Ohio has trailed the national average in job growth for 54 consecutive months. This budget follows the same failed course. On the road to forever we don't know the way.”  


To shore up the state’s deteriorating financial outlook, Republican lawmakers raided numerous special funds, ended local grant programs, delayed payment of certain bills and counted on a glowing economic forecast the next two years – though Ohio spent the last 54 months trailing the nation’s job growth.


GOP lawmakers even loosened future access to agency funds, like the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation fund, should the state budget bust before the end of the next fiscal year. The unusual move has been widely criticized and is believed by House Democrats to be illegal and unconstitutional.


Republicans also propped up the state’s ledger by taking $35 million in local community funding used to fight opioid addiction and locking working people out of expanded Medicaid healthcare coverage. If federal approval is granted for the Medicaid lockout, the state estimates at least half-a-million people would lose healthcare.


During the months-long budget process, House Democratic lawmakers called on Republicans to come together on economic and tax reforms that would put $200 million in real money against opioid addiction while walking back six years of tax-shifting that have seen Ohio trail the nation in job creation and shift to poverty-wage jobs. Democrats also said the state could better attract new businesses and good-paying jobs by rebuilding local communities and prioritizing education funding for every student to earn the skills they need to compete.


Though Republican lawmakers are seeking a six-year federal waiver for a new Medicaid tax that would keep counties and transit authorities from losing $200 million per year, local communities and schools have still had to ask local taxpayers for more money after the state cut almost $2 billion and $1 billion, respectively, during the last six years. 

 
 
 
  
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