Sunday, May 26, 2002

Highlights of Ohio budget plan

The Associated Press

        The House Finance Committee on Saturday approved a $1.7 billion plan to balance the state's budget. Some of the plan's elements:

        • Raises $283 million next year by increasing Ohio's cigarette tax by 31 cents per pack.

        • Raises $119 million by taxing accumulated income in Ohio-based trusts. This provision ends Dec. 31, 2004.

        • Transfers $345 million from Ohio's settlement with national tobacco companies now slated for school construction, and replaces the money by borrowing money through the sale of bonds.

        • Prohibits the general-revenue fund from increasing in the 2004-05 budget years any more than it did in 2002-03.

        • Empties the state's rainy-day fund by using the fund's remaining $600 million.

        • Delays $175 million in business tax breaks promised by President Bush's economic-stimulus package.

        • Authorizes the state to borrow $50 million through the sale of bonds for the first year of Gov. Bob Taft's 10-year, $1.6 billion Third Frontier initiative to create a new high-tech industry with high-paying jobs.

        • Reduces Ohio Department of Education spending by $30 million in programs not involving direct basic aid to students. These could include Head Start, OhioReads, bus purchases for districts and public preschool programs.

        • Cuts an additional $10 million from the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

        • Restores $7.8 million to PASSPORT, a Department of Aging program that allows senior citizens to receive care at home instead of entering a nursing home.

        • Creates a prescription-drug discount program through the Ohio Department of Aging.

        • Allows the state to force drug makers to pay a rebate on certain drugs for Medicaid patients.

        • Allows the state to investigate requiring a co-payment by some Medicaid patients to deter excessive use of certain Medicaid services.

        • Creates a committee to study ways to improve the state's economic development efforts.

       Source: Legislative Service Commission


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