COLUMBUS — Health care advocates are praising Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget proposal for expanding medical eligibility for needy residents.
Business groups are backing the administration’s plan to cut income tax rates on individuals and small businesses.
And oil and gas industry officials are criticizing it for hiking tax rates on eastern Ohio’s growing shale oilfields.
Many others are still trying to get a handle on how the $63 billion spending plan will affect schools, road construction, university tuition and tax returns.
Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage called the governor’s approach on Medicaid “thoughtful” and praised his “courage to face critics.”
Co-chairs Col Owens and Cathy Levine said in a released statement, “The Medicaid expansion will improve the health of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. We know that when working families have health insurance, parents can go to work and children can go to school knowing they will be able to see a doctor if they need to. Instead of seeking routine care in emergency rooms, these Ohioans will be able to receive quality, consistent care in lower cost settings.”
Other medical groups supporting the expansion include the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, AARP Ohio, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Dental Association.
Even House Minority Leader Armond Budish, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, offered positive comments on the Medicaid expansion.
“Expanding Medicaid as provided for by the Affordable Care Act will have very significant benefits for Ohioans who are struggling to obtain basic healthcare coverage,” he said in a released statement. “I’m pleased the governor has proposed this expansion. It will benefit the economy of Ohio, and it is also our moral duty to lift up those most in need.”
The Ohio Manufacturers Association and other business groups are supporting Kasich’s tax cut plan, saying it would “facilitate investment, growth and job creation in Ohio’s manufacturing sector.”
Eric Burkland, the group’s president, added in a released statement, “The effect of this specific proposal would be to free up much-needed working capital for small businesses across Ohio, increasing job-creating investment in those companies. The proposed personal income tax reduction also would help entrepreneurs in early-stage businesses where the risks are high and working capital often is in short supply.”
But the Ohio Petroleum Council is not backing Kasich’s increase on oil and gas production from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
“While we agree with the governor that all Ohioans should benefit from development of the Utica Shale, the last thing a recovering economy needs is more taxes; and the last thing Ohio’s economy needs is a hefty, tax increase that will harm job growth,” Robert Eshenbaugh, the group’s legislative analyst, said in a released statement. “Ohioans are already benefiting from shale energy development. We are an industry investing in putting people to work, paying high wages and already generating billions in revenue for the state. This proposal is ill-conceived and ill-timed.”
The conservative Americans for Prosperity, Ohio chapter, called Kasich’s budget a “mixed bag.”
“The promise of tax reforms and reductions are positive but paying for them in part with increasing severance taxes on farmers with oil and gas under their land is a mistake,” Seth Morgan, policy director, said in a released statement. “Additionally, increasing the number of Ohioans on the rolls of Medicaid is not real health care reform and will ultimately trap Ohioans in a system that badly needs patient-centered reform.”
Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, a Democrat from Cincinnati, said Kasich’s plan amounts to a “massive tax increase” that will benefit the state’s wealthiest residents.
According to the chamber’s Democratic caucus, “The governor’s biennial budget plan calls for charging sales tax on cable TV, arts and entertainment, real estate services, scientific research, legal and accounting services and financial service fees. That means Ohioans will pay an additional $4.82 billion in non-auto sales taxes in [fiscal ‘14 and ‘15] as compared to the previous biennial budget.”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.