Ohio Senate Passes $65 Billion Spending Plan

The Ohio House and Senate will have to work out their differences in a new two-year state budget after senators passed a different spending plan last night. 

Senator Randy Gardner says his chamber's version does a better job of protecting one of Ohio's greatest treasures-- its library system. The Wood County Republican says the Senate's budget also limits college tuition increases and evens out school funding among suburban districts, along with setting achievable guidelines to graduation for the class of 2018.

The $65 billion budget also includes a wind turbine provision inserted by state senator Cliff Hite. The measure affects setback regulations which could make it easier to develop more wind farms in Northwest Ohio. The Findlay Republican is trying to answer a contention by wind companies and environmental groups that current regulations are too restrictive.

Overall, the Senate's version calls for extending Medicaid expansion for one year. After July 1, 2018, no new enrollees would be accepted to the program covering some 700,000 poor adult Ohioans — and those who dropped off the program by finding better employment could not re-enroll.

A conference committee has a little over a week to work out a compromise biennial budget before a June 30th deadline to submit it to Governor John Kasich for his signature.

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