Ohio House revises Kasich Medicaid, tax proposals

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Income tax cuts are in. Medicaid expansion is out.

More money for schools is in. A sales tax on services is out.

Those are among dozens of judgment calls contained in an Ohio House rewrite of the two-year state budget introduced Tuesday.

The Republican-led chamber’s answer to GOP Gov. John Kasich’s spending blueprint spends about $2 billion less while retaining a 7 percent permanent income-tax reduction statewide and removing tax increases on professional services and drilling. Kasich has proposed a two-year budget plan of about $63.2 billion, beginning July 1.

The House’s $1.5 billion income-tax reduction over two years is less than the 20 percent Kasich had originally proposed, and excludes the governor’s proposed small-business tax cut.

“We just couldn’t get that done in this time frame and be comfortable with it,” said House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz, who described a host of Kasich proposals that have been removed from the bill for lack of time to explore them.

The House dropped the Kasich’s plans to extend Medicaid coverage to thousands more low-income Ohioans under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul.

Roughly 366,000 Ohio residents would be eligible for health coverage under the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2014. The state would see $13 billion from the federal government over the next seven years to cover those newly eligible.

Instead, representatives added $100 million over the two-year period to mental health and addiction services.

Asked whether the amount was sufficient to provide care to those who needed it, Amstutz said, “We don’t know the answer to that.”