Safety Net Advocates Surprised by Kasich's Budget

A bill that would hike the speed limit on non-urban interstates to 70 miles an hour is on its way to a conference committee. The House has passed a crackdown on storefront gambling-like operations known as Internet cafes. And the Senate unanimously passed budgets for the Ohio Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation – both of those budgets are now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. Superintendents from Appalachian Ohio say the governor's school funding formula in the state budget doesn't share enough of Ohio's economic good fortune with their schools and children. Former Senate President Tom Niehaus has landed a job. And daytime television host and former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer doesn't see himself getting back into elective politics.

Controversy and questions continue to haunt JobsOhio this week, as a deadline from the state auditor looms in the next few days. Last week state auditor David Yost issued a subpoena for the financial records of the public-private entity, saying he had authority to look them over and audit them – both the public dollars and the private donations. Democrats have been blasting the program, and this week Reps. John Carney and Denise Driehaus, who are both on the House Finance Committee, say they’ll ask for vote of the committee to subpoena JobsOhio to answer questions. The opposition to and growing concern about JobsOhio is once again uniting two groups that don’t see eye to eye on many, many issues. Rob Walgate with the conservative Ohio Roundtable is praising the progressive coalition Progress Ohio, led by Brian Rothenberg, as it prepares for arguments on its case against JobsOhio before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The budget is still top of the agenda at the Statehouse. And while Republicans have been lining up against the expansion of Medicaid and raising concerns about the severance tax on big oil and natural gas drillers, Democrats have been hitting back at Gov. Kasich for the cut in the income tax and the expansion of the state sales tax onto dozens of services that aren’t taxed now. But social welfare groups and organizations that deal with people in safety net programs have so far liked much of what they’ve seen in the budget, and what they heard from the governor in his State of the State speech and in other venues. Sharing their thoughts are three people who’ve all testified before the House Finance Committee this week: Joel Potts is the executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association, which works with county ODJFS offices around the state. Lisa Hamler Fugitt is the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. And Will Petrik is state director for Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of hundreds of social services organizations.

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