COLUMBUS - Today, State Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) responded to the version of the state biennial budget bill, House Bill (HB) 49, that was proposed by the Ohio House of Representatives. Among other things, this version of the budget set to be voted on by the House cuts “all-funds spending” by roughly $2.5 billion for fiscal years 2018-2019, adds additional funding to the governor’s proposed budget for fighting the opioid epidemic in Ohio, and provides more funding for K-12 education.
“The budget version that was delivered to the House today for consideration does some very good things for my district and the greater state of Ohio, but it is still going to require a lot of work here in the Senate,” said Sen. O’Brien. “While I was happy to see more funding to fight the scourge of opioid drug addiction, as well as an increase in funding for most of the schools in my district, I’m concerned about cuts to Medicaid that are still included.”
House committee members inserted an additional $170 million in new resources over the next two years to fight the recent opioid crisis that has been plaguing Ohio. This includes $12.2 million for prevention, $19.4 for mental health services, drug courts, and drug lab reports, and $130 million for addiction treatment. Additionally, the current version of HB 49 proposes an increase of roughly $80 million over the biennium for K-12 education. However, due largely to warnings from the state Office of Budget and Management that revenue estimates would likely be reduced by around $800 million over the biennium, cuts to Medicaid entitlements totaling hundreds of millions of dollars were included in the bill by House GOP leaders.
“Lower income Ohioans who disproportionately rely on Medicaid services for healthcare should not have to bear the burden of the Kasich administration’s failure to accurately project budget estimates for the next two years,” continued O’Brien. “During the budget’s time in the Senate, I will do all I can to ensure that the final version of the bill signed by the governor is as beneficial as possible to all my constituents in the 32nd Senate District.”
In addition to the budget changes outlined above, the current version of HB 49 authorizes credit unions to participate in state linked deposit programs, revises fees for county recorder charges, allows for cashless lottery sales using a debit card, expands video poker to racinos, and reduces the number of sick days for university employees from 15 to 10, among many other things. The House is set to vote on the budget late the week of May 1st. Finance Subcommittee deliberations on the budget bill are tentatively set to begin the week of May 1st in the upper chamber, with a full Senate floor vote slated for some time in late June.