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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

State budget battle looms large

An interesting state budget battle has already begun with state political leaders engaging in lively banter regarding Gov. John Kasich’s two-year proposal.

Kasich’s budget looks to implement a number of big policy changes such as a Medicaid coverage expansion and changes to state income tax and sales tax rates.

The budget has parts that Democrats and Republicans like, although initially there doesn’t seem to be much mutual agreement.

Interestingly, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said the state GOP wouldn’t officially support or oppose the governor’s plan, rather it would let the legislative process play out.

However, Bennett said the budget delivers on education reform, tax cuts and accelerated job growth for the next two years.

Meanwhile, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern made it known quite clearly the party adamantly opposes the governor’s budget, although he agrees with Kasich’s proposal to accept federal funding to help the state expand Medicaid health care coverage.

The Republican governor raised a few eyebrows when he broke ranks from what some other GOP governors have done by wishing to expand Medicaid.

It may take a bit to persuade some Republicans to go along with that idea, especially GOP state lawmakers who oppose the nation’s new health care law, dubbed Obamacare.

Redfern said Democrats would look to separate a Medicaid expansion from the budget and offer amendments for the issue to be considered as stand-alone legislation.

Republicans have a clear majority in the Ohio General Assembly, but I think Democrats could have some success separating Medicaid expansion from the budget.

I’m probably in the minority there, but I think it could provide a path for some Republicans to then support the governor’s budget and provide them political cover from the more conservative members of the party.

The Ohio Republican Party also cited support of Kasich’s signature program, JobsOhio, to attract new businesses. JobsOhio has received little support from Democrats who say the program is unconstitutional. They also have questioned its transparency.

Bennett also criticized Democrats who “have been hard at work (last) week spreading outright lies about the new budget.”

In fact, Bennett unveiled Thursday a new website,, that he said is “promising that the old lies and new lies to come will now be available to the public.”

Redfern blasted Bennett saying “This soon-to-be outgoing chairman has the audacity to suggest it’s the Democrats who want to kill jobs. Quite the contrary.”

The Democratic Party chairman then said former Gov. Ted Strickland offered seniors the largest property tax cut in state history by expanding the Homestead Exemption. He then said Kasich’s plan to expand the base of the state sales tax is one of the largest expansions of sales tax in state history.

Despite the fact the overall rate would be lowered, Redfern said the proposal would disproportionately effect lower-income residents and would now raise the cost of services such as haircuts, funerals and foreclosures.

Joyce makes friends

As a freshmen federal lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce continues to reach across the political aisle in Congress to make friends and build relationships.

Joyce, R-Russell Township, plans to sit next to fellow freshman lawmaker U.S. Rep. Cheri Busto, D-Ill., during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The two members of Congress, who first met during a bipartisan Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, said their decision was based in the spirit of bipartisanship and working together.


n Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hosts his annual Mardi Gras Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.

n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser is 5 to 7 p.m. March 4 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

n Re-election kickoff party for Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets, 5 to 8 p.m. March 7 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Ed or Cindy Hughes.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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