House, Senate Approve Patch For Lost Local Funding

Dec 15, 2017

State and county leaders have been trying to figure out how to patch up budget holes that opened up when the federal government took away the ability to tax Medicaid managed care providers. Lawmakers reached a compromise but falls far short of filling the gap.

House and Senate members agreed to divvy up $50 million as a one-time fund meant to help local governments transition away from the now abolished tax.

Transit authorities attached piggyback taxes to that tax, which brought in about $207 million annually.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko says the fix, which was attached as an amendment to HB69, isn’t enough to prevent cuts to local public transportation.

“There’s gonne be some of our constituents who aren’t going to have access, whether the people with disabilities or senior citizens or students and that’s gonna cause problems.”

Lawmakers had tried to ask the feds for a higher tax in HB49 as a provision in the state budget. That was dubbed a “franchise fee” that would have lasted for five years. There were questions as to whether the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would have approved the measure. Ultimately, Gov. John Kasich vetoed that amendment in the budget.

The Republican-controlled House voted to override the veto but the Senate put the brakes on that effort in exchange for an agreement among Kasich, the House, the Senate and local government officials.

The General Assembly also passed another one-time fix providing $207 million, but it’s just for next year.