Morning News and Stuff

Governor reveals turnpike plan, city to approve budget, Kroger could buy Hostess brands

click to enlarge Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. John Kasich

It’s official: Gov. John Kasich

won’t privatize

the Ohio Turnpike. Instead, the Republican governor wants to increase tolls at the rate of inflation and issue bonds backed by the turnpike’s profits to raise an estimated $3 billion for infrastructure projects — more than 90 percent of which will be in northern Ohio, where the turnpike is located. To ease the short-term burden of the plan, tolls for local passenger trips using E-ZPasses will be frozen at current levels for 10 years. In

a video

unveiling the announcement, Kasich says the projects could generate an estimated 75,000 jobs. To most, the plan, which will require approval from the legislature, probably seems like a fairly liberal proposal: use a public asset to leverage revenue, then use the revenue on a large, statewide stimulus program. But Democrats are criticizing the plan because they say the toll hike will hurt individuals, families and businesses that use the Ohio Turnpike. Let the eye-rolling at blatant politicking begin!

City Council is getting ready to

approve the budget

today. The final plan has made a few tweaks to

City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposal

. Parking privatization will remain, but the budget will provide a one-year stopgap in funding for Media Bridges. Previously, all of Media Bridges’ funding was being cut, which CityBeat wrote about

here

. The plan will also keep the mounted patrol unit, maintain income tax reciprocity and restore funding for human services and arts grants.

Will Cincinnati-based Kroger soon own Twinkies?

It’s possible.

The grocery store giant is considering buying Hostess brands in the aftermath of Hostess’ bankruptcy. CityBeat previously wrote about the Hostess bankruptcy

here

.

A study found

a gap

in Hamilton County’s housing stock. The report suggests the county doesn’t need any more housing than it already has; instead, it should build on current properties. The report also found vacant housing that isn’t for sale and serves no purpose has increased by 107 percent.

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has unveiled

a new master plan

. It’s proposing $450 million in projects.

The Hamilton County recorder’s office will

remain open

on Fridays. The office was previously planning to close every Friday due to funding cuts, but restored funds have made staying open possible.

In its last session of the year, the Ohio Senate

approved redistricting reform

32-1. The House could not take up the measure before the end of the lame-duck session, but the vast bipartisan support could be a good sign for next year’s legislative session. Redistricting is widely used by politicians to redraw district boundaries in politically beneficial ways. The First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn during the Republican-controlled process to include Republican-leaning Warren County, effectively diluting Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning urban vote in the district.

Ohio

lost more residents than it gained last year

, but the trend might be reversed by a growing economy. Economic improvements have already slowed down what Dayton Daily News calls an “exodus.”

A new Ohio law would

increase

the amount of auto insurance motorists are required to carry.

A drop in gas prices

lowered

U.S. consumer prices by 0.3 percent.

NASA discovered

the largest river

ever seen on another world. The river is on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and it is made up of hydrocarbons. The river is still unnamed, so I encourage everyone to email NASA to name the river the German Lopez River

here

.

Climate change isn’t just bad for humans. It will also hurt

cuddly land mammals

.
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