Thursday, April 14, 2005
One supporter called the House-passed budget a 'home run.'
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- State representatives from the Mahoning Valley were split on the $51.3 billion state budget the Ohio House passed this week.
House Speaker Pro Tem Charles Blasdel, R-East Liverpool, said the state's economy will improve with the tax changes offered in the budget the House passed Tuesday by a 53-46 margin, especially those changes that Blasdel said would benefit manufacturing companies.
"We've hit a home run," Blasdel said. "We've hit a home run in a big way."
The House-passed spending plan contains Republican Gov. Bob Taft's proposal to phase out the tangible personal property taxes on business machinery, equipment and inventory that some manufacturers say hurts their businesses.
House Republicans also extended the phaseout to furniture and fixtures as well in the House-passed budget offering.
"I emphatically support this bill," Blasdel said.
Both Blasdel and Republican state Rep. Randy Law of Warren voted for the proposed state budget.
Law worked with fellow majority Republicans to get $300,000 in the two-year spending plan for the city of Warren to help it provide police and fire protection services.
Democratic Reps. John A. Boccieri of New Middletown, Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown, Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles and Sylvester Patton of Youngstown voted against the budget.
Majority Republicans are touting the 21 percent across-the-board state income tax cut contained in the budget bill.
But minority Democrats say the wealthiest Ohioans will see larger savings than middle-class Ohioans.
Democrats also say local governments will see reductions in state funding under the budget plan, a move that could lead local governments to seek tax increases.
"I think it's more of the same that we're getting from Columbus -- pushing the tax burden down to the lowest level," said Boccieri.
Carano said he was concerned with the thousands of working-poor parents that would see their Medicaid coverage ended under the proposed budget. Medicaid is the state/federal health insurance program for the poor.
Stabile Harwood said she also has concerns for those that will see their Medicaid coverage end.
"Ohio needs real change, rather than the same old tax favoritism that shifts more of the burden onto individuals and families," said Patton, who's running for Youngstown mayor.
Only one House Democrat, state Rep. Dixie Allen of Dayton, joined 52 Republicans in voting for the proposed state budget. Eight Republicans joined 38 Democrats in voting "no."
The GOP-led Ohio Senate opened hearings on the state budget this week. The current, two-year $48 billion state budget runs through June 30. Lawmakers must enact the next two-year outlay by July 1, under state law.