Morning News and Stuff

GOP questions Medicaid expansion, Qualls' streetcar concerns, council backs efficiency

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

State legislators, particularly Republicans, have a lot of questions regarding

Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion

. Legislators are worried the state won’t be able to opt out of the expansion if the federal government reneges its funding promise, raising potential financial hurdles. As part of Obamacare, the federal government pays for 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and the share phases down to 90 percent after that. Kasich’s budget includes a trigger — called a “circuit breaker” — in case the federal government ever funds less than currently promised. A study from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio

found

the Medicaid expansion could insure nearly 500,000 people and generate $1.4 billion by raising revenue and shifting funding burdens from the state to federal government.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a longtime supporter of the streetcar, is

getting concerned

about some of the problems surrounding the project. In a memo to the city manager, Qualls suggested putting the streetcar project through “intensive value engineering” to bring the project’s budget and timetable back in line — preferably in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The memo was in response to streetcar construction bids coming in $26 million to $43 million over budget — a setback that could cause further delays or more funding problems.

With Councilman Chris Seelbach’s strong support, City Council passed a resolution urging the state government to

maintain its energy efficiency standards

. State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who chairs the Public Utilities Committee, sent out a memo Feb. 1 that pledged to review the state’s standards, causing much concern among environmental groups.

Tolls for the Brent Spence Bridge

could be as low as $2

, according to financial consultants involved with the project. The tolls will help pay for the massive rehabilitation project, which gained national attention when President Barack Obama visited Cincinnati to support rebuilding the bridge.

State Democrats and Republicans

have some questions

about the governor’s Ohio Turnpike plan. Some Democrats are concerned the state government won’t actually freeze toll hikes at the rate of inflation for EZPass users. Others are worried about language in the bill. The plan leverages the Ohio Turnpike to fund a statewide construction program.

The man accused of dumping fracking waste into the Mahoning River in Youngstown was

arrested and charged with violating the Clean Water Act

.

Dayton

wants to help

illegal immigrants who are victims of crime. The Dayton City Commission approved a $30,000 contract with a law firm to help potential victims. CityBeat

previously covered

the recent struggles of children of illegal immigrants in Ohio.

A Dayton Daily News report found Ohio

overpays

unemployment compensation claims by millions of dollars.

The University of Cincinnati is

launching a technology incubator

for mobile apps.

In his State of the County address yesterday, Commission President Chris Monzel said Hamilton County is

“on the move and getting stronger.”

Attorney General Mike DeWine and officials from other states

announced a $29 million settlement

with Toyota over the unintended acceleration debacle. Ohio will get $1.7 million from the settlement.

A meteor

flew over Russian skies and exploded with the strength of an atomic bomb

Friday, causing a sonic blast that shattered windows and injured nearly 1,000 people.

Scientists engineered mice that

can’t feel the cold

. Certain people on CityBeat ’s staff would probably do anything for this superpower, but scientists are probably going to use it to make better pain medication.
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