COLUMBUS - Today, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Governor John R. Kasich, urging him to use his line item veto authority to remove several troubling provisions from Amended Substitute House Bill 49, the state budget bill. 

Dear Governor Kasich:

We, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus, write to urge you to veto several troubling provisions within Amended Substitute House Bill 49, the biennial budget bill. We ask for these particular vetoes because they would help protect some of the most vulnerable residents of our great state. We appreciate your consideration for these critically important issues. 

Healthcare

According to your administration, the Medicaid freeze contained within this budget would cause 500,000 Ohioans to lose coverage. That is unacceptable. A recent poll conducted by a conservative polling firm found that just 14% of Ohioans support scaling back federal dollars for Medicaid. This implies widespread support for Medicaid throughout Ohio. New barriers to care would be vastly unpopular.

We urge you to veto the following provisions impacting healthcare:

  • Medicaid freeze and work requirements. These provisions fundamentally alter the nature of the program and create unclear administrative burdens, which will leave Ohioans without access to healthcare.
  • Any requirement to reapply for or commit to the harmful so-called Healthy Ohio Program
  • Any other barriers to care for the Medicaid expansion population
  • The requirement for an “innovation waiver.” This dangerous provision exempts Ohio from the individual and employer mandates with no plan or mechanism to maintain insurance coverage or healthcare access.
  • The option for the legislature to block Medicaid rate increases (but not decreases). This provision ties the hands of the Medicaid department to improve access and offends the separation of powers.
  • The need for legislative sign off on coverage of new optional eligible groups. This serves no purpose other than to play politics with people’s health.

Education

Two years ago, members of the legislature were able to come together to pass a sweeping bill to increase charter school accountability and transparency (HB2 of the 131st G.A.). Since that time, support for accountability in education has only grown throughout the state. Several provisions within this budget bill would be a step backwards from those bipartisan efforts. 

We urge you to veto the following provisions impacting education:

  • The appeals process for community school sponsor evaluations. Evaluations are based on facts and evidence—not opinions that are subject to interpretation.
  • The provision allowing certain ESCs to sponsor a community regardless of where the school is located. Superintendent DeMaria has expressed his concern for this weakening of House Bill 2.
  • The provision allowing certain charter sponsors that have lost their sponsorship authority due to poor ratings to continue sponsoring schools for at least another year. This weakens sponsor accountability and discourages sponsors from improving. Superintendent DeMaria has also urged the deletion of this change.
  • JEOC review of ODE’s FTE manual. This provision is directly related to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s lawsuit against the state. It allows a legislative committee to oversee – and sometimes overrule – the Department of Education’s use of an internal manual to audit charter schools. This is misguided legislative overreach.
  • The provision that allows certain e-schools to split into smaller e-schools. This is written to directly benefit large online charter schools, and may very well allow these schools to avoid accountability.
  • The repeal of the clearinghouse of information for at-risk students. This ends the state’s obligation to pay attention to students who need the most help. We need to keep those children at the forefront of our schools’ concern.
  • The decreased staffing ratio for pre-school children with disabilities. This would lower the quality of special education in Ohio. One-on-one time with teachers is essential for development. Watering down this time would let kids fall behind.

Communities/Local Governments

Years of cuts to local governments have created substantial financial burdens for our community partners. Communities have been forced to raise taxes through levies or lay off first responders and suspend vital community services. Vetoing these provisions will provide some relief and help keep our local governments running.

We urge you to veto the following provisions impacting Ohio communities:

  • The provision added by the House earmarking $1 million from the LGF for townships and small villages.
  • The elimination of the municipality tax "throw-back" provision, which would retain current law.

Additional Provisions in the Public Interest

Crisis Pregnancy Centers

  • The legislature just passed a budget filled with painful cuts. This is no time to be making a partisan political statement by funding organizations that give medically inaccurate information to pregnant women. This is especially true as we weigh drastic cuts to healthcare for much of the state. The state’s decision to direct limited funds to poorly regulated centers that are unable to perform even basic medical tasks would be highly offensive to many Ohioans faced with healthcare cuts at the state and federal level.  We urge you to veto this partisan earmark so the money can instead go to evidence-based programs to help Ohioans access needed education and more stable employment. 

Crisis Preparedness

  • Veto changes to O.R.C. 131.35 that stop the controlling board from authorizing new unexpected funds. This could leave the state unprepared to react to financial emergencies.
    • Similarly, veto the portion of Sections 333.33 and 333.34 that would restrict the release of funds from the Health and Humans Services Medicaid sequester.

Limiting Bureaucracy

  • Veto changes to sections 101.88, 101.881, 101.882, 101.89, and 117.46, which require standing legislative committees to conduct agency review. These provisions would cause agencies to be bogged down in bureaucracy rather than serve citizens. The General Assembly already has sufficient tools to review cabinet departments.

School Employees Retirement System

  • Veto PENCD3, which changes existing law that requires a cost of living adjustment for retired members of the School Employees Retirement System. This language deserves to have public hearings and input from the interested parties.

Governor’s Authority

  • Veto DNRCD38, which removes the authority of the Governor to make appointments to the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission.  The ability to appoint members to such an entity is appropriate authority for the executive to maintain.

Taking One-Time Money From Agencies

  • We urge you to veto Section 512.12, which authorizes the state to take money from state agencies and transfer it to the GRF. These agencies are currently funded through fees and other non-tax charges paid by the users of these agencies. It is inappropriate that these agencies’ funds are raided for other purposes when their non-GRF funds are specifically collected to accomplish defined regulatory tasks, none of which have been significantly diminished by recent changes in law.
  • Impacted agencies include: the Department of Commerce, the Ohio EPA, the Department of Insurance, the Office of the Consumers' Counsel, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the Ohio Industrial Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, and the State Racing Commission.

We would be happy to provide additional information regarding any of these veto requests. Thank you again for your consideration.

A PDF version of the letter can be viewed here.

 
 
 
  
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