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Governor expected to sign $62B, 2-year Ohio budget

Jun. 30, 2013 @ 06:25 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the new $62 billion, two-year state budget on Sunday and specify any items he is rejecting.

The plan was approved by the Republican-led state Legislature on Thursday after months of debate — and over the fierce objections of some Democrats.

A spokesman for Kasich, a Republican, said in a statement Sunday that the governor would sign the measure around 7:30 p.m.

The plan will cut personal income taxes, add some abortion restrictions and make changes to school funding. It doesn’t include changes Kasich sought for Ohio’s Medicaid system, but he said he expects lawmakers to restructure the health care program by year’s end.

Republicans are especially proud of an estimated $2.7 billion in overall tax cuts over three years, including a phased-in income tax cut for individuals and small businesses. The cut is partly paid for by increasing the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent.  

Democrats say those reductions would disproportionately benefit wealthier Ohioans while sales tax changes would hurt those struggling to make ends meet.

Also in the budget are revamped ground rules for funding public colleges and universities to more closely tie state aid to graduation rates. Under the plan, universities won’t receive a portion of their per-pupil funding until the student has graduated.

Last week Kasich declined to say what items he was eying for line-item veto. Various groups are urging him to strike a provision that limits the administration’s ability to add new Medicaid enrollees, and to remove provisions effectively defunding Planned Parenthood and requiring doctors to share with a pregnant woman signs of the fetal heartbeat before the woman gets an abortion.

After the budget passed Thursday, abortion-rights supporters protested the measure, with several escorted out for shouting “Shame on you, shame on you!”