by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:37 AM | Permalink
Governor, Democrats, mental health advocates criticize Ohio House Republicans’ budget
Ohio House Republicans are poised to reject the Medicaid
expansion and the $500 million per year in federal funding that would
come with it for the next two years — a move that has united Republican
Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other
health groups in opposition.
The Medicaid expansion is part of a measure in the
Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that encourages states to expand their
Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the
federal poverty level with the use of federal funds. For the first three
years, the federal government would pick up the entire tab for the
expansion. After that, payments would be phased down over time so the federal
government would be paying 90 percent of costs.
Ohio House Republicans oppose the measure because they say
they’re worried federal funding will dry up in the future, even though
there is no historical precedent of the federal government failing to
pay its commitment to Medicaid.
Kasich’s proposal for the Medicaid expansion includes an
automatic trigger that would immediately stop and retract the expansion
if federal funding falls through, but Ohio Republicans previously voiced
concerns in hearings that the trigger would hurt Ohioans who have
become accustomed to government-provided health insurance without any
plan to make up for the lost coverage.
A report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found
the expansion would help insure 456,000 Ohioans by 2022 and save the state
money in the next decade by producing economic growth and shifting
health-care expenses from the state to the federal government.
For advocates of mental health and addiction treatments,
Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion and other
budget items means mental health and addiction services will miss out on
$627 million per year, according to a report from the Office of Health Transformation.
Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would include $50
million more annual funding for mental health and addiction services,
but that’s also not enough to make up for the $140 million in annual funds
cut around the state since 2002 and the $17 million being cut over two
years through the dissolution of the tangible personal property tax
Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio
Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), says the Medicaid
expansion is a great opportunity to emphasize mental health services
around the state.
“On the mental health side, ... sometimes it can take two
or more years for someone to get a disability determination that makes
them Medicaid eligible,” she says. “In addition to making more people
Medicaid-eligible, it will speed up the process for many others.”
Walter says for addiction patients in particular, getting
access to health services can be difficult because alcoholism and other
forms of addiction are not technically disabilities. By including more
income levels in the Medicaid program, less people will fall through the
cracks, she says.OACBHA was one of the many groups that rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday in support of the Medicaid expansion. The crowd, which received support from Ohio Democrats and Kasich, was estimated to reach 2,500.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the
Medicaid expansion was required, but the court ruled that states must be
allowed to opt in and out.
The Medicaid expansion was one of the few parts of
Kasich’s budget plan that Democrats and progressives approved, while the
two other major proposals in Kasich’s plan — school funding and a tax cut
proposal — were criticized for disproportionately benefiting wealthy Ohioans (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Ohio Democrats say Gov. John Kasich’s local government funding cuts are to blame for Cincinnati’s budget woes.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Washington, D.C., is once again on the
verge of another manufactured crisis. On March 1, the sequester, a
series of mandated spending cuts, is set to kick in, threatening the
country with another round of austerity measures that will cut jobs and
bring down an already-fragile economy.
by German Lopez
Terhar compared Obama's gun control proposals to Hitler quote
Democrats are calling for the resignation of Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post. The Columbus Dispatch reported Terhar
posted an image of Adolf Hitler on her personal Facebook page that read, “Never forget
what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’
— Adolf Hitler.”
Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, insists she
was not comparing Obama to Hitler. She told The Dispatch that people who know her understand she was describing the “need to step back and think about it and look at history.”When looking at history, there is no evidence Hitler actually said the quote in question. The Nazi leader referenced disarming the “subject races,” according to Hitler's Table Talk, but the direct quote Terhar posted is unverifiable.
“I’m not comparing the president to Adolf Hitler,” Terhar said. “It’s the
thought of disarming citizens, and this has happened throughout history.
What’s the true intention of the Second Amendment? It was to protect us
from a tyrannical government, God forbid.”
Terhar’s stance could have an impact on school policies. She told The Dispatch,
“Schools are gun-free zones. If you have someone who is bent on causing
harm, where are they going to go? To a place where there is little
chance of resistance.”
But when looking at different countries
and states, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found a
correlation between more guns and more homicides. More specifically, men
and women in places with more firearms are at a larger risk for
Terhar was elected Jan. 14 by the 19-member Ohio State Board of Education to serve as president.
by Andy Brownfield
Ohio Dems wear carnations in solidarity with Michigan workers
In light of Michigan’s progress in passing a so-called
“right-to-work” law, Ohioans are both worried about and pushing for a
similar law allowing workers to opt-out of paying union dues at
businesses where workers are represented by a union.
Tea party activists are working to gather the 380,000
signatures needed to get the Ohio Workplace Freedom Act on the ballot.
They have until July 3.
The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday passed
the first of two right-to-work bills, both of which were passed by the
state Senate last week. Gov. Rick Snyder has told multiple media outlets
that he could sign the bills as early as Wednesday.
Michigan would be the 24th right-to-work state in the
nation and the second in the Midwest. Indiana passed a similar law
earlier this year.
Members of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus wore red
carnations — Ohio’s state flower and a symbol of the labor movement — at
the Statehouse Tuesday to show support for Michigan workers.
“Put simply, so called ‘right to work’ is wrong.
Statistics show states with this anti-working family legislation have
lower wages and higher poverty rates,” Ohio state Rep. Connie Pillich,
D-Montgomery, wrote in an emailed statement.
“We will continue to stand together and fight against these unfair attacks on workers in Ohio, Michigan and across the country.”
Despite the effort to put a right-to-work law on the
ballot next year — a similar effort was unsuccessful in 2012 — it
doesn’t seem like Ohio is in any rush to join Michigan and Indiana.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio Gov. John Kasich has higher priorities than passing a right-to-work law. The newspaper reports that Ohio added 127,000 jobs in the
past two years and ranks fourth nationally and first in the Midwest in
terms of job creation.
Kasich said the agenda for the last two years of his first
term include tax cuts, an education overhaul and infrastructure
improvement to keep the state competitive.
“I have an agenda that I think is going to benefit the
state of Ohio,” Kasich told the newspaper. “We’re doing very well
vis-a-vis the rest of the country now, and I think if we continue to
pursue the agenda I have and the legislature has, I think we’ll continue
to be successful.”FUN FACT: Michigan's right-to-work bill will be signed into law in the Romney Building. George Romney, former Michigan governor and father of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was an opponent of right-to-work laws.
by German Lopez
Ohio Republican supermajority hangs on 14 votes, city unveils budget, county passes budget
In the Ohio House of Representatives, the difference between a Republican supermajority and a normal majority is now 14 votes.
That’s how many votes are splitting Republican Rep. Al Landis and
Democratic challenger Josh O'Farrell. The small difference has already
triggered an automatic recount and likely a series of lawsuits from
Democrats over counting provisional ballots. The supermajority would
allow Ohio House Republicans to pass legislation without worry of a
governor’s veto and place any measure on the ballot — including
personhood initiatives — without bipartisan approval.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget proposal at a press conference yesterday.
The proposal will pursue privatizing the city’s parking services to
help close a $34 million deficit. The privatization plan has already
faced some early criticism from Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld. The budget
will also make minor cuts elsewhere. In addition to the 2013 budget, the
Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which Dohoney passed to City Council and
the mayor yesterday, also raises property tax rates.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners approved the 2013 budget in a 2-1 vote.
Democrat Todd Portune was outvoted by Republicans Chris Monzel and
Board President Greg Hartmann. The final budget was basically Hartmann’s “austerity” proposal, barring some minor tweaks. The cuts could cost 150 or more Hamilton County jobs.
Councilman Chris Smitherman is facing a challenge
for his spot as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP. The
councilman’s opponent is Bob Richardson, a former officer of Laborers
Local 265 and former president of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Richardson’s son told WVXU, “I think we have seen the NAACP veer off its
core principles and turn into a tool for Smitherman and his
In a promising sign for the local economy, Greater Cincinnati banks are taking in more money from deposits.
The 21c Museum Hotel opened yesterday.
But the hotel has critics, including Josh Spring from the Greater
Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Drawing a comparison to the situation between
Western & Southern and the Anna Louise Inn, Spring said the hotel
ended up displacing far too many people.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is taking up research into how autism develops.
A new report found expanding Medicaid in Ohio could cost the state $3.1 billion. The money would be enough to insure 457,000 uninsured Ohioans. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid faced less health problems.
One concern with the state's “fracking” boom: water supply.
Some are worried that the amount of water needed to fuel hydraulic
fracturing, a drilling technique for oil and gas, will drain Ohio’s
wells and reservoirs.
After some sentencing reform, Ohio’s inmate population is not decreasing as fast as some state officials would like.
As the state deals with prison overpopulation and more expensive
prisons, Gov. John Kasich’s administration has turned to privatization. CityBeat looked at issues surrounding private prisons and the connections between the state government and private prison companies here.
Ohio women are having fewer abortions in the state.
The drop seems largely attributable to increased access to birth
control. Better access to health care and improved health education are
also factors.Ever forget to take some medication? No longer. There is now a pill that can inform others when it's taken.
by German Lopez
Committee hearing filled with protesters, chants
One week after the major Democratic victories of Election
Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators are pushing HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood. In a Health and Aging
Committee hearing at today, Ohio Republicans voted to push the bill
through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.
If the bill passes the Republican-controlled General
Assembly and is signed by Gov. John Kasich, it will block $2 million in
federal funding from Planned Parenthood and prioritize other family
services. In the past few years, Planned Parenthood has become a popular
target for Republicans because the organization provides abortion
services. But that’s not all Planned Parenthood offers; a chart released
by the organization in February demonstrated abortions only make up 3
percent of its services.
Another criticism leveled by Planned Parenthood supporters
is the federal funding is legally barred from being used for abortions.
Instead, the funding would go to other health services within Planned
Parenthood, which provides general women’s health services to poor and
Some Democratic lawmakers say the bill shows an out-of-touch Republican Party.
“For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans
are so intent on taking away from women the right to make their own
choices about their bodies,” said Ohio Sen. Nina Turner in a statement.
“Voters soundly rejected the foolishness of the radical right on
Election Day in favor of the dignity of American women, but some
lawmakers must not have heard.”
She added, “While Republicans rail against women making
their own choices, they are cutting funding for education and critical
social services that children need after they are born. They want small
government, all right — small enough to fit into a woman’s womb.”
The strong words showcase what was a loud, feisty exchange
between Planned Parenthood supporters and Republican lawmakers. At the
committee hearings, supporters and opponents of HB 298 testified. Some
opponents cited their personal experience, including an emotional account from one
woman regarding her own rape at age 13. She said she was glad young women like her can turn to
Planned Parenthood for help. Ohio Rep. John Carney, a Columbus Democrat,
pointed out that throughout the hearings, no health care provider
testified in favor of HB 298. One doctor testified against the bill. Carney also pointed out that no tax dollars that go to Planned Parenthood pay for abortions.
The bill isn’t the only action Republicans have recently taken against women’s health rights. Ohio Senate President Tom
Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer about the possibility of a
renewed heartbeat bill on Nov. 8. In October, Kasich appointed two anti-abortion
advocates to government positions. In this week’s news commentary (“Ohio
Republicans Continue Anti-Abortion Agenda,” issue of Nov. 14), CityBeat covered the ensuing Republican campaign against abortion rights.
by German Lopez
Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters
Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of
State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them
to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to
combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily
In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter
fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note
recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4
Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case
of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight
investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged
in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a
year.Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of
Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty
voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as
examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.
“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says.
“(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives.
Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the
intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re
doing more work.”In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.
To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter
impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll
watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting
process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics
promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for
anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way.
Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or
about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting
and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the
conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.
Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans
to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only
watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious
activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity
through other means.
The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S.
Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away
minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and
being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation
era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation
era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income
The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their
letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in
minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to
question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to
‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing
cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and
slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating
tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right
to vote of all citizens.”
TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County.
Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP),
another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast
majority were thrown out.
“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC
students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on
their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were
rejected. We did nothing with those.”
But he said the group did bring up one legitimate
challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer
park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists,
Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge
those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.
Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom
impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.
VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special
training programs for poll workers. The organization insists
its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.
Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to
hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the
organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too
“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting
their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s
not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re
doing something evil.”
He added, “If poll workers are
coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police
officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and
therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”
by German Lopez
Today is the last day to register to vote, and in-person
early voting is underway. Register to vote and vote at your nearest
board of election, which can be located here.Hamilton County commissioners agree on not raising the
sales tax. That effectively rules out two of three plans laid out by the
county administrator. The one plan left would not cut public safety, but it would make cuts to the courts, criminal justice system, administrative departments, commissioner departments and the board of elections.It seems other news outlets are now scrutinizing online
schools. A Reuters report pointed out state officials — including some
in Ohio — are not happy with results from e-schools. Even Barbara
Dreyer, CEO of the e-school company Connections Academy, told Reuters
she’s disappointed with performance at e-schools. A CityBeat look into e-schools in August found similarly disappointing results.
Ohio Democrats are asking federal and state officials for
an investigation into Murray Energy, the Ohio-based coal company that
has been accused of coercing employees into contributing to Republican
political campaigns. In the statement calling for action, Ohio
Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said, “Thanks to this report,
now we know why coal workers and miners have lent themselves to the
rallies, ads, and political contributions. They’ve been afraid.”
Councilman Chris Seelbach is following up on information
obtained during public safety meetings. The most consistent concerns
Seelbach heard were worries about loitering and young people breaking
The state auditor says the Ohio Department of Education
(ODE) could save $430,000 a year if it moved its student information
database in-house. Current law prohibits ODE from having access to the
data for privacy reasons, but State Auditor Dave Yost says it’s
unnecessary and “wastes time and money.”It seems Duke Energy is quickly integrating into its recent merger with Progress Energy. The company's information technology, nuclear and energy-supply departments are fully staffed and functional.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is renovating and restoring the Art Academy on the building’s west side.
It might not feel like it sometimes, but parking in Cincinnati is still pretty cheap.
Scientific research is increasingly pointing to lead as an explanation for people’s crazy grandparents. Research indicates even small programs cleaning up lead contamination can have massive economic and education returns.
Kings Island is selling off pieces of the Son of Beast.
The troubled roller coaster was torn down after years of being shut
The “Jeopardy!” Ohio Online Test is today. If you’re ever on the show, give a shout-out to CityBeat.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in
September — the lowest jobless rate in nearly four years. The country
added 114,000 jobs during the month, and labor participation actually
rose with 418,000 people joining the labor force. Jobs numbers for July
and August were also revised upward, indicating that the summer’s
economy was not as weak as previously estimated. Unlike previous reports
that were mired with dropping labor participation rates and job
additions below expectations, this report paints a generally rosy
picture of a recovering economy.A new report found Ohio-based Murray Energy might be
coercing employees into making campaign contributions to Republicans. It
seems Bob Murray, Murray Energy’s CEO, directly encourages employees to
make donations through memos and strong language. As a result, the
company has an unusually high amount of donations to Republican
candidates, including senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, presidential
candidate Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner. The company’s PAC and
staffers are the sixth biggest source of funding for Mandel.By their own admission, Republicans misrepresented Issue
2. The good news is they have agreed to stop using some of the
misleading language. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will give
redistricting powers to an independent citizens commission. Currently,
elected officials redraw the district boundaries, and they use the
system in politically advantageous ways. The Republican majority redrew
the First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati to include
Warren County, which places less emphasis on urban voters that typically
vote Democrat and more emphasis on rural voters that typically vote
Republican. CityBeat previously covered redistricting and Voters First’s
The state auditor gave a mixed review to Ohio’s schools
and education department yesterday. In an interim report, the auditor
criticized a handful of school districts for scrubbing attendance
reports and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for having poor
oversight. ODE promised “additional safeguards” in response to the
report.Gov. John Kasich is continuing his privatization campaign.
The governor is finally close to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and he says
that could raise more than $1 billion.
It turns out Kasich’s number about Ohio’s auto industry
losing 500 jobs might be correct, but only because of the time frame and
terms Kasich used. In general, the auto industry in Ohio has
improved since 2009.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is leading the
charge, but it’s only the beginning. A few movies are taking advantage
of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which is meant to bring film
production to Ohio. Seven films will be filmed in Ohio: Underdogs, Crooked Tree, Blood of Redemption, The Tribunal, A Dog Named
Suki, In Other Words and The Do Over. Since the tax credit began,
the Ohio Film Office has helped employ more than 19,000 Ohioans and
added nearly $205 million to Ohio’s economy.
Some in the aerospace business want southwest Ohio to take
bigger advantage of the area’s strong aerospace industry and make it
A survey found Ohio is among the 25 best states for
entrepreneurs. The state moved up 18 spots — from No. 40 to No. 22 — in
the past year.
Update on Ohio Supreme Court candidate William O’Neill’s
demands for Justice Robert Cupp to “recuse or refuse” due to campaign
donations: Mark Weaver, Cupp’s spokesperson, responded, saying, “Mr.
O'Neill previously raised this argument with disciplinary authorities by
filing a complaint. It was reviewed by disciplinary authorities, and
they unanimously dismissed it as having no merit.”An Eden Park microbrewery got approval from City Council.
A study found students enrolled in parents’ health care
plans are 5.7 percent more likely to attend college full time. The
finding is good news for Obamacare, which forces insurance
companies to allow sons and daughters to stay on family insurance plans
until they turn 26.Robot sea turtles might soon carry cargo in their shells.