Posted Friday, June 7, 2013
The budget hit the Senate floor a day after coming out of committee, and passed along party lines after a marathon seven-hour session. Senators Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), Joe Schiavoni (D-Austintown), John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Kris Jordan (R-Powell) spoke out on the floor. The budget now heads to a conference committee, where the differences will be hammered out by June 30 so it can be signed by the governor and in place for the start of the new fiscal year July 1.
Gov. John Kasich signed several bills this week – one notable measure was quietly inked without any ceremony. That was the bill that included the amendment that blocks the state auditor from auditing the funds in his quasi-private job creating entity JobsOhio. But Republican auditor David Yost, who had opposed the quick vote on the amendment and has maintained he has the authority to audit JobsOhio, says the friendships that he describes as “unmade” won’t do permanent damage.
The state has officially turned over a string of Lake Erie parks to the city of Cleveland. And Ohio State University President Gordon Gee has announced he’s retiring, just a week after a tape surfaced on which he’s heard making comments that some found offensive.
The controversial issue of so-called “right to work” laws came back to the Statehouse briefly this week, as a House committee heard sponsor testimony from Reps. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) on two bills that would prohibit public and private employers from requiring workers to join unions. More than a hundred opponents packed the hearing room and overflow rooms. But committee chair Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) says this will be the only hearing.
State leaders from Gov. John Kasich on down have been talking for more than a year about how the economy is improving in Ohio. But not everyone is feeling the rising tide. A report out this week from the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies shows the cost of basic needs such as food, housing, transportation, health care and child care soared 23 percent in the last five years. A third of Ohioans are eligible for food assistance. And of the top ten professions, only one of those – registered nurse – pays what’s considered a living wage. Talking about the report and about how the poorest Ohioans are dealing with daily life are two experts on the front lines. Lisa Hamler Fugitt is the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. Jack Frech is the director of Athens County Job and Family Services in one of the state’s most poverty-stricken counties.