Ohio’s budget: Where it’s been, where it’s going

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — With House passage of Ohio’s latest state budget Thursday, the crafting of a final spending blueprint for the two years beginning July 1 is about halfway complete.

Here’s a look at where things stood after Thursday’s vote:

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THE PARTY DYNAMICS

Gov. John Kasich is a Republican. So are majorities of both legislative chambers. But that hasn’t meant universal agreement on budget matters. Kasich’s budget proposed expanding Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul, a new school funding formula and significant tax reform. The GOP-dominated House sidelined Medicaid expansion, scrapped much of Kasich’s tax overhaul and significantly reworked his proposal for funding schools.

House Democrats might have been enticed to favor a budget containing Medicaid expansion promoted by Democratic President Barack Obama as well as Kasich’s tax hike on oil and gas drillers. However, they signaled early they wouldn’t give any votes to Kasich’s budget plan, effectively hobbling their negotiating power, at least in the House.

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WHAT’S IN

— Statewide income tax reduction of 7 percent, down from Kasich’s proposed 20 percent.

— More basic per-pupil aid to school districts, up from Kasich’s $5,000 per student to $5,732 in the first year and $5,789 in the second year of the budget, and more money for pupil transportation. Cuts to add-ons Kasich proposed for such areas as special education and gifted learning, and cuts to his competitive Straight A Fund for innovation combine for a slight overall reduction in education spending by the House.

— Additional $30 million per year for nursing homes that meet certain quality of care standards.

— Additional $6 million per year for providers in the PASSPORT in-home nursing care program.

— Property tax exemption for charitable fraternal organizations, including the Masons.

— Reordering of family planning money that effectively de-funds Planned Parenthood.

— A way for officials to seek flexibility in providing health coverage to more low-income Ohioans and to study the issue, even though Medicaid expansion was stripped from the budget.

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WHAT’S OUT

— Expansion of Medicaid to make roughly 366,000 low-income residents eligible for coverage beginning in 2014 and qualify the state for about $13 billion from the federal government to cover program costs over the next seven years.

— Sex education measure barring distribution of contraceptives on school property and subjecting teachers to litigation for promoting unspecified activities considered gateways to sex.

— Sales tax reduction and broadening that would have taken the rate from 5.5 percent to 5 percent then extended the tax to a new list of items, including legal services and entertainment events.

— Severance tax increases on oil and natural gas extraction that would have generated an estimated $200 million for the state general fund, local governments and libraries.

— Certain tax cuts for small businesses.

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WHAT’S NEXT

The state Senate gets its chance next to put an imprint on the voluminous bill. Watch for that process to wrap up in mid-June. Once the Senate’s version is approved, a joint House-Senate conference committee will be appointed to hash out a compromise on any sticking points. That should take about two weeks. The final legislation goes back through both chambers then on to Kasich. Because it’s a spending bill, Kasich can veto individual line items.

All must be complete by June 30.

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Follow Julie Carr Smyth at http://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth

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