OBM Director Talks About Gov. Kasich's Budget, And Mandating Autism Coverage

Gov. John Kasich signed dozens of bills into law right before the end of the year, after lawmakers passed them in some last minute sessions before the close of the 129th General Assembly. The governor is now signing some of those laws again ceremonially in public venues. He went to Hamilton Elementary School in Columbus to re-sign the law replacing the rating system for schools that goes from “excellent with distinction” to “academic emergency” with grades A through F.

Meanwhile, Democrats are far in the minority in both the Ohio House and especially the Senate. But they have an agenda, which they unveiled this week. They say they’ll push for bills to curb gun violence, improve ballot access and support healthy, financially stable families.

We’re still waiting to find out where the Governor wants to deliver his State of the State speech. But as he did last year, Youngstown-area state representative Ron Gerberry is protesting Gov. Kasich’s plans to move it away from the Statehouse.

The state budget will be out in two weeks. A few hints have been dropped, but not many details. But the governor is likely to use his State of the State speech to sell the more controversial ideas in his budget. In the meantime, there are those who are trying to guess what those ideas will be. And the person who knows what’s in that document is here to talk a bit about it - I’m very pleased to welcome budget director Tim Keen.

For six years, Ohio lawmakers have debated legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. But they’ve never passed anything. Last week, Gov. Kasich stepped in, filing paperwork with the federal government that basically means Ohio insurers will have to cover autism as they do other mental health issues. Families surrounded the governor at the event where he signed the order – and the parents shared their stories of struggling to pay for treatment for their kids – many of whom have now been mainstreamed and are doing well. He was also joined by Republican and Democratic state lawmakers, including Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati. But small businesses in Ohio are frustrated with the governor’s order, including one of their main lobbyists, Roger Geiger of the National Federation of Independent Business Ohio.

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