Governor Kasich signing the budget. Behind him (l to r) Sen. Bill Coley (R-Middletown), Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton), Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) and OBM Director Tim Keen
Credit Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio
After months of discussion and debate and several days of lingering questions, the state has a new two-year, $62 billion budget. The signing came with just hours to go before the new fiscal year.
The budget includes a gradual income tax cut over three years for everyone, a 50 percent income tax cut for small businesses, an increase in the state sales tax along with an expansion to digital downloads and magazine subscriptions, and some property tax changes. Gov. John Kasich said he was pleased with it, though it didn’t include his proposed Medicaid expansion.
A Republican-dominated legislative panel has passed a slew of changes to Ohio's budget, including a last-minute abortion regulation requiring doctors to provide written notice to pregnant women of a detectable fetal heartbeat.
The six-member conference committee moved the spending bill along party lines Tuesday night. The 4-2 vote sends the finalized budget bill to the floors of both legislative chambers, which are likely to take action Thursday.
Lawmakers face a Sunday deadline to pass the almost $62 billion, two-year spending bill.
Some Ohio doctors and medical clinic managers say if the Ohio legislature passes some anti-abortion bills now under consideration, it’s very possible there will be a shortage of doctors and medical facilities to serve the needs of Ohio women. And they warn more Ohio women will die due to complications from pregnancies.
Women seeking an abortion in Ohio would have to wait longer to undergo the procedure and listen to their doctors describe all of the fetus' "relevant features" under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.
The Republican-led Legislature's most recent attempt at curbing abortions would also require doctors to tell women that the procedure increases the risk of breast cancer and may cause pain to the fetus.
The bill will be presented Wednesday at a House committee hearing.
The so-called "Heartbeat Bill" is dead in this session of the legislature, according to Republican Senate president Tom Niehaus. But its backers say they won't give up, and are still hoping for a last-minute maneuver to get it to the Senate floor before the end of the year. But one supporter of restrictions on abortion who's not getting involved is Gov. John Kasich.
"I let the legislature do its job, and then I respond. I try not to wade into the legislature," says Kasich. "I don't get in the middle of legislative activity."