COLUMBUS Gov. John Kasich will unveil details of his biennial budget Monday during two events in Columbus.
The administration will discuss the plan with reporters during an early afternoon press conference, while a town hall-style meeting at a Columbus coffee shop is set for later in the evening. Both will be broadcast live over the Ohio Channel, online at www.OhioChannel.org.
Kasich already has announced his school funding reform package, which will be part of the main budget. That plan calls for level funding for schools; increased support for poorer districts and disabled and gifted students; and one-time grants to support schools working to improve their operations and cut costs.
Late last year, Kasich also announced a plan to leverage future Ohio Turnpike tolls to leverage $3 billion for road and bridge projects.
But few other firm details of the larger two-year spending plan have leaked for public perusal, though Kasich has made clear some broad categories that will be addressed.
Among them: a possible expansion of Medicaid eligibility, covering more needy Ohioans and netting more federal dollars in the process; and tax reform that's expected to include an increase in rates on oil and gas production and a decrease in income tax rates.
On the latter, Kasich has said repeatedly in recent weeks that tax rates on oil and gas production in eastern Ohio's growing shale oilfields must be increased.
"We absolutely need to raise the tax on severance... ," Kasich told a group of reporters in Columbus this week. "Twenty cents on an $80 or $90 or $100 barrel of oil is not acceptable in our state to the taxpayers. Everybody in this state ought to be sharing in the bounty of oil and gas."
He added, "We would never raise this tax to the point where we would discourage the development of business. Up in North Dakota... they've got shortages of everything. Their tax is 8 or 9 percent. We're proposing 4 [percent]."
Republicans in the Ohio House postponed consideration of Kasich's severance tax plan last year after getting bogged down in the governor's lengthy mid-biennium budget review.
Rep. Ron Amstutz, a Republican from Wooster who heads the powerful House Finance Committee and who's had some background briefings on Kasich's coming budget, supports efforts to decrease the income tax rates.
"It is still a problem for our state, in terms of being competitive with other states," he said.
Amstutz said he expects the governor's budget will include a severance tax increase, income tax decrease and other tax reform.
"I think that what's coming to us is a much more comprehensive package," he said.
The House Finance Committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the main operating budget on Tuesday and the transportation budget on Wednesday.
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.