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Gov. Kasich unveils budget proposal

2:29 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

COLUMBUS --  Ohio Gov. John Kasich unveiled his two-year operating budget this afternoon, it  contained a host of big policy changes.

Kasich's recently announced school-funding plan will be in there.

So will a decision  to expand Medicaid as allowed under the federal health care overhaul.

Kasich also promised more funding for mental health programs and families touched by autism.

A package of tax policy changes is also part of the plan. It includes a hike for oil and gas drillers .

It would also close some loopholes  

Kasich said it will help create a $400 million tax cut, 20 percent for most taxpayers. He is also proposing reducing the state sales tax from 5 1/2 to 5 percent.

More services would be subject to the sales tax

Debate over the plan will be rigorous, despite a significantly improved financial picture.

Kasich claims his reelection budget's main goal remains job creation.

But the atmosphere is much different that of his first budget which was about filling an $8 billion hole.

That was achieved largely through cuts in funding to cities and schools.

Kasich said his budget would increase the level of the rainy day fund from $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion over two years.

A plan to use the Ohio Turnpike as a means to issue bonds for infrastructure projects is also par of the overall plan.

Many Statehouse Republicans who opposed President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be conflicted over a Medicaid expansion.

Kasich decided an expansion makes sense , since the Federal government is picking up most of the expense and hospitals support it.

Expanded vouchers are raising concerns among teachers' unions.

And communities benefiting from the oil and gas boom could push back against a severance tax that spreads that wealth across the state.

More on the budget at: http://jobsbudget.ohio.gov/

(Desk top users can read attached PDFs.)

The Associated Press

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