Senate Approves Budget with Anti-Abortion Measures

The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate passed a budget that takes multiple measures against legal abortions and makes sweeping changes to taxes and education.

In a party line 23-10 vote on June 6, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate passed a $61 billion budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 that takes multiple measures against legal abortions and makes sweeping changes to taxes and education.

Echoing the Ohio House plan, the Senate bill defunds Planned Parenthood and funds anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers with federal welfare funds. The Senate also added a provision that could be used by the state health director to shut down abortion clinics.

Under the Ohio Senate budget’s new rules, abortion clinics would be unable to set transfer agreements with public hospitals, and established agreements could be revoked by the state health director. At the same time, if a clinic can’t establish a transfer agreement, the state health director could shut it down.

The rules allow abortion clinics to set agreements with private hospitals, but critics argue that’s much more difficult because private hospitals tend to be religious.

The Senate plan also offers a 50-percent income tax deduction for business owners on up to $375,000 worth of income. Supporters argue the tax cut will invigorate small businesses, but critics say the tax cut will largely go to passive investors, one-man firms and partnerships that are unlikely to hire more people.

The budget restores about $717 million in education funding, which supporters call the largest increase to education in a decade. Critics say the increases aren’t enough to undo $1.8 billion cut in the 2012-2013 budget, and they also argue the increases, which are still largely based on property taxes, favor wealthy school districts and leave poor, rural districts behind.

Like the House version, the Senate budget forgoes the Medicaid expansion, which would use federal funds to medically insure Ohioans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $15,856 for a single-person household.

The House and Senate budgets will now be reconciled through conference committee. Gov. John Kasich must sign the budget into law before a June 30 deadline.

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