By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich has dropped plenty of hints in recent weeks about topics he’ll cover in his State of the State speech in Medina on Monday night.
Tax reform, vocational education for middle schoolers and increased efforts to combat prescription drug and heroin abuse are among the issues he’s likely to address during the annual joint session of the Ohio House and Senate and likely to be included in Kasich’s second “mid-biennium review,” a package of policy proposals he’ll offer to lawmakers to consider in coming months.
But Statehouse Democrats want Kasich to use this year’s MBR to correct what they see as mistakes that were included in last year’s biennial budget bill.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, and other Democratic members of the chamber are calling on Kasich to reinstate the homestead exemption for all senior homeowners, codify an expansion of Medicaid eligibility in state law, request a federal waiver to allow more unemployed Ohioans to access food assistance and pump more state funding into schools and local governments.
“The MBR used to be called the corrections budget,” Schiavoni said. “That’s a more appropriate term considering the many things that need corrected from the governor’s previous budgets.”
Schiavoni and others also want the governor to support an increase in taxes on oil and gas produced via horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Kasich has pursued his own plan on that issue for a couple of years, hoping to use the proceeds to further cut Ohio’s income-tax rates. Some Republicans in the Ohio House are pushing a different severance-tax plan that would raises taxes on fracked oil and gas, reduce taxes on conventional vertical wells and use proceeds for regulatory efforts and a tax cut.
Schiavoni and other Democrats are not supporting a severance-tax increase combined with a tax cut, however.
“We need to use this money so we have an adequate amount of money to invest in our local communities, giving the locals an opportunity to build infrastructure and deal with all the issues that come with oil and gas,” he said.