Kasich budget has some good points
Opposition to some of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals already appears to virtually preclude their adoption by the General Assembly. His plan to cut income taxes while increasing sales taxes is being criticized by Republicans and Democrats.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, however. Kasich’s budget recommendation includes numerous good — necessary, in fact — ideas. Legislators should move forward with them.
Kasich’s foundation is a balanced budget achieved despite expected decreases in revenue during the two-year spending period. His proposal is for $66.9 billion in general revenue fund spending. That is $4.3 billion less than in the current two-year budget.
Though some agency budgets would be reduced under the Kasich plan, others — including public schools and higher education — would receive slightly more than they do now. That is appropriate.
Lawmakers should adopt the governor’s proposed spending reductions without allowing sacred cows and pet projects to get in the way.
Some of his tax increase recommendations should be approved, too. For example, making e-cigarettes and similar vapor devices and supplies subject to the tax on tobacco products makes sense.
So does the governor’s recommendation that some Medicaid clients pay a new monthly premium for their health insurance. It would not be charged to current beneficiaries whose incomes are below the federal poverty level, or those who have or are expecting children.
Affected Medicaid clients would pay premiums averaging about $20 a month. In no case would they exceed 2 percent of household income.
The modest new charge would raise about $200 million to help pay for the most rapidly increasing cost in state government — health insurance.
In addition, it actually could improve beneficiaries’ health by giving them a financial stake in their own well-being.
Members of the General Assembly should set a foundation for action on the more controversial aspects of Kasich’s plan by adopting recommendations such as spending cuts, some tax increases and the Medicaid premiums.
There will be time enough to argue later.