Ohio's budget director Tim Keen told a budget compromise committee Wednesday that tax revenues were up $1 billion over estimates for the fiscal year that ends this month and $421 million for the next two-year budget cycle. The current-year boost comes from stronger income tax filings, as the state looks to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Ohio will get an additional $110-million thanks to a deal reached between Governor John Kasich and casino operator Rock Ohio Caesars. In exchange ROC will only pay Ohio's commercial activity tax on what people wager, minus winnings. Rock CEO Dan Gilbert calls the deal fair and reliable.
Gilbert says the size and scope of the Cincinnati casino isn't changing. He expects to open in spring 2013. Governor Kasich says Ohio needed a comprehensive gaming plan.
State parks and other lands in Ohio will be opened to oil and gas drilling under a bill that has passed the state Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate voted 22-10 on the legislation that sets up a commission to oversee oil and gas leasing. It also requires state agencies to create property inventories that could yield potential drilling sites.
The House has passed the bill, but would have to agree to the Senate's changes before it could go to the governor's desk.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a spending bill that includes $6.7 million for the Predator Operations Center at the Springfield Air National Guard Base.
The money is a boost for the Base which hopes hosting the operations center will help ensure its future existence. The funds were part of a larger $72.5 billion bill for military construction and Veteran Affairs programs.
The approved funding is also a big boost for the region which hopes to cement its foothold as a center for unmanned aircraft training, education and product development.