Kasich Praises Changes To School Funding

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite being foiled on Medicaid expansion, Gov. John Kasich praised the General Assembly on Friday for passing a spending bill he says will generate jobs through tax cuts and tying college funding to graduation rates.

Kasich predicted he and legislators will agree by the end of the year on how to restructure the state’s Medicaid program, which provides coverage for one of every five Ohio residents.

“We believe we still have ample time to get this done,” Kasich said at a press conference on the state budget with Ohio Senate President Keith Faber and Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, both fellow Republicans.

Kasich had exhorted legislators to take advantage of Medicaid expansion made available to states under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul, which would bring the state federal dollars. The expansion is a key component of the Affordable Care Act, which requires that nearly all Americans have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty.

The state Legislature on Thursday okayed a $62 billion, two-year operating budget that cuts personal income taxes, changes the way public schools and universities are funded, and adds abortion restrictions.

Tax changes in the bill will mean an estimated $2.7 billion in overall tax cuts over three years, including through a phased in income-tax cut for individuals and small businesses. The cut is partly paid for by increasing the state sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent.