PDT Staff Writer
Local officials have a variety of opinions when it comes to the new state budget.
Gov. John Kasich signed the $62 billion, two-year budget on Sunday after vetoing some line items.
Sharon Hanrahan, Chairwoman of the Scioto County Financial Planing and Supervision Commission said Scioto County should feel little impact from the state budget. She said one of the sources of revenue for Scioto County is sales tax. With the passage of the new state budget comes an increased sales tax.
“One of the bigger revenue sources is sales tax. The state sales tax is going up a quarter of a percent, that is in addition to any county taxes that are currently in effect,” Hanrahan said.
She said amount brought from revenue from sales tax is consumer driven. When asked if she sees the state budget having a negative impact on Scioto County and its finances Hanrahan said no.
According to a report from the Associated Press, one of the items Kasich vetoed was an attempt by legislators to block his administration from expanding Medicaid to additional low-income residents.
Kasich’s plan would expand Medicaid eligibility to Ohioans earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty level (about $15,400 per person). But the extension comes with a condition: If the federal government fails to cover the bulk of the costs, as it has promised, the state will reverse course.
The group Advocates for Ohio’s Future released a fact sheet showing the potential impact of extending health care coverage in the state budget, if approved by legislators.
The fact sheet states, “Scioto County’s economy is stronger when everyone can participate in the economy. Healthy children become productive citizens, healthy citizens build strong communities, and health workers strengthen Ohio’s economy. If Ohio extends health coverage in the state budget 3,766 Scioto County uninsured 19-64 year olds are projected to gain health coverage by 2015.”
According to 2010 figures, the group estimated there are 5,422 eligible uninsured adults in Scioto County.
The fact sheet states that if Ohio extends its medicaid coverage by 2015, only two percent of Scioto County would remain uninsured. Based on 2010 figures that would represent a 69 percent decrease.
In February the the Scioto County Health Coalition unanimously voted to endorse Gov. Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid in Ohio.
Chris Smith, city of Portsmouth Health Commissioner and one of the organizers of the Scioto County Health Coalition, said he was disappointed the Medicaid expansion did not make it into the budget but, is hopeful it will be enacted through other measures.
“The health coalition is definitely pushing for medicaid expansion. We’re 88 out of 88 counties for health care. We absolutely need it and it would help a lot of people that need drug treatment get it paid for,” Smith said. “I’m very hopeful that they are looking at this measure separately and the potential health impact for Medicaid expansion is important for our county.”
A document released by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management titled ‘Transforming Ohio for Jobs & Growth; Ohio’s FY2014-2015 Budget,” states, “work continues by the general assembly outside of the budget process on the governor’s proposal to extend Medicaid coverage, and the issue remains a key priority for the administration.”
The document gave no indication on how the work is continuing.
When it comes to higher education funding, officials at Shawnee State University (SSU) are expecting a 3.64 percent decrease in state funding.
SSU released the following statement on the passage of the budget, “The new funding formula for higher education, recommended to the Governor by the Higher Education Funding Commission, places an increased emphasis on course completion and graduation rates, creating challenges for open access institutions. To help those institutions make the transition to the new standards and related funding impacts, one time bridge funds to help those institutions impacted by the change in the formula were recommended but were significantly reduced in the final version of the budget bill resulting in a 3.64 percent decrease in state support for Shawnee State University in FY14. We are making efforts to adapt to this decrease in funding in ways that preserve the quality of our academic programs, provide critical support services for underprepared students, and keep tuition as low as possible.”
Kasich left in the budget a new requirement that doctors must inform pregnant women seeking abortions of any fetal heartbeat.
For more information about Ohio’s 2014-2015 budget visit obm.ohio.gov.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.