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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, April 13, 2013

Ohio budget battle just getting started

It was fairly surprising to learn about some of the major components of Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal that were taken out of the proposal that was unveiled in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Dropping an expansion of Medicaid in Ohio wasn’t completely unexpected, as many Republicans had previously cited concern about the federal government keeping its pledge to fund an expansion at 100 percent for three years before eventually dropping to 90 percent funding.

I hadn’t anticipated a complete scrap of changes to the state sales tax rate that had included a lower overall rate, but expanding the base of services that could be taxed.

That idea isn’t completely dead, as Republican state lawmakers indicated it might be something to consider in the future.

Because Ohio law states the two-year budget must be put into place by July 1, when the state fiscal year begins, GOP leaders decided there wasn’t enough time to study whatever repercussions might stem from changes to the sales tax.

Kasich really wanted a 20 percent reduction in the state’s income tax rates, but instead a 7 percent cut is now on the table.

Also scrapped was an increase on the severance tax on oil and gas drilling, which Kasich said would have helped pay for further income tax reduction.

The state expected more than 365,000 Ohio residents to be eligible next year if an expansion of Medicaid was approved.

Despite the fact it was left out of the Ohio House state budget bill, that battle doesn’t appear to be over.

The governor continues to keep the pressure on to expand Medicaid in Ohio, and Kasich recently told reporters that he doesn’t take it personally that House Republicans dropped it.

Instead, Kasich said that he profoundly disagrees and couldn’t state his position any clearer.

Ohio House Democrats have introduced a bill that is very similar to the governor’s initial proposal for a Medicaid expansion.

As I have written before, I thought an expansion of Medicaid could be something that was pulled from the budget and could be voted on separately.

This might be legislation introduced by Democrats that could have a chance to pass with some Republican support, but it remains to be seen if that would be enough.

Republican Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder said he wasn’t sure at this point how many in his caucus would vote for such a measure.

I also think there is a decent chance the Ohio Senate could put a Medicaid expansion back into the budget bill after passed by the Ohio House because the governor hasn't backed down.

Supporters of a Medicaid expansion also will have time to galvanize their efforts to pressure lawmakers, and rallies in Columbus have already begun.

House GOP lawmakers added $100 million for mental health and addiction services, but it doesn’t appear to satisfy the governor and statewide advocacy groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.

Filed petitions

People who recently have filed candidacy petitions in Lake County are James Bala for Wickliffe Council Ward 1, William A. Brotzman and Kenneth Gauntner Jr. for Madison Township trustee.

Taken out petitions

Recently signing out candidacy petitions are Robert M. Johnson for Mentor-on-the-Lake Council, John Popelka for Willoughby Council Ward 2, Lori DiNallo for Painesville Council at large, Dan Donaldson for Madison Village Council, Joe Zawatski for Willoughby Hills Council and Dave Krych for Wickliffe Council president.


n Dennis Morley will host a kickoff fundraiser for his Eastlake mayor campaign, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Trader Jack’s Riverside Grille in Eastlake. See Donna Vaughn or Barb Morley.

n Lake County Commissioner Judy Moran will host a fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dino’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Willoughby. See Kathy Russo.

n Lake County Treasurer-elect Lorraine M. Fende will host “Fende’s Victory” spaghetti dinner from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Dino’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Willoughby. See Nick Cindric.

n Willoughby Hills Councilman Kevin D. Malecek’s Annual Cinco De Mayo Fundraiser, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 1 at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Malecek or Nora Colburn.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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