Politics & Government

It appears more likely that Ohio voters - next November -- will decide the fate of a plan to install thousands of slot machines at race tracks. A group seeking to BLOCK the plan until voters get the final say has filed petition signatures to put the proposal up for a statewide vote. Details now from statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen.

Ohio Budget Pact Clears Legislature

Dec 18, 2009

A state budget compromise that calls for Ohioans to pay more in 2009 taxes than expected has cleared the state Legislature.

After eking through the Senate in a 17-15 vote, it cleared the Ohio House 54-42 with two Republican votes.

Ohio lawmakers have reached a deal to resolve an impasse over a budget deficit by combining Gov. Ted Strickland's tax cut delay with a pilot project for new construction rules.

The deal was reached late Wednesday. It would avert $850 million in budget cuts to school districts.

Lawmakers plan to vote on the deal Thursday once the agreement can be translated into legislation.

Both sides in the ohio budget impasse appear to be digging in their heels. That means it's still unclear whether this year's 4.2 per cent cut in the state income tax will be delayed, and it's still unclear how state legislators will fill a projected 851 million dollar money hole. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports.

Four Decades of Ohio Politics

Dec 9, 2009

Four decades of important events and major figures in Ohio politics and government, with retired United Press International and The Columbus Dispatch reporter Lee Leonard.

Ohio Senate Republicans appear willing to provide enough votes to approve of Gov. Ted Strickland's suggested tax cut delay.

But those Republicans want things in return from Democrats, and negotiations on closing a state budget gap continue.

Delaying a 4.2 percent income tax reduction would fill the $850,000,000 hole in the budget.

In times of fiscal crisis, budget battles often boil down to raising revenue or cutting spending. The governor and House Democrats - with the help of two Republicans - have voted to raise revenue by pulling back the final year of a five year income tax cut. But Republicans have talked up a plan to cut spending by consolidating state government. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has more on that plan.

Ohio House Passes Tax Delay

Oct 22, 2009

A proposal to delay this year's 4.2 per cent cut in the state income tax got an okay from the Democrat-dominated Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday evening. The plan now faces an uncertain fate in the Republican-dominated Ohio SENATE. The House debate lasted about 3 hours, mostly along party lines. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports.

A new report shows Ohio lawmakers haven't passed many bills since the first of this year. It also shows lawmakers spent way more time fundraising than they do in legislative sessions. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are taking issue with the report. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles has more on the story.

Activists who want to eliminate the tax heirs pay on high-value estates have gotten the go-ahead to start their drive to put the issue before voters. But the campaign to kill the estate tax will likely be attacked by local communities if it makes it to the ballot. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler talked with a key opponent of the estate tax and an operative who opposes the effort to erase it.

A final version of the Ohio budget removes a provision that would have allowed natural gas drilling in Ohio state parks and strips school districts of the authority to determine whether pupils should say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The plan also clarifies Gov. Ted Strickland's authority to put slot machines at Ohio's horse racing tracks to raise an estimated $933 million.

A legislative committee voted 5-1 on Monday to approve the budget plan after little debate or discussion.

The roughly $52 billion spending plan now goes to votes in the House and Senate.

Ohio legislators and the governor have given up trying to hammer out a compromise two year state budget by the Wednesday morning deadline. Instead, they're now in the process of enacting a one-WEEK budget to give them more time to work on the long-range spending package. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports.

Budget Talks Stall. Ohio Waits.

Jun 29, 2009

Negotiations over a new two-year state budget among Ohio's 3 most powerful politicians fell apart over the weekend. That makes it seem more and more unlikely that state legislators will be able to agree on a compromise spending plan by the July first deadline. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports the biggest sticking point appears to be slot machines.

Advocates for foodbanks, unions, libraries and social service agencies in Ohio used demonstrations, media ads, and phone calls to protest proposed state budget cuts. The pressure on lawmakers is building as they work to fashion a new two year state budget. And, the deadline for agreement is next week.

Many state employees have been laid off in recent months, and many more have been asked to take unpaid furlough days. These actions were taken by state leaders to help save state dollars. Some Ohio lawmakers think more cuts are in order. But as Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports, what these lawmakers want to cut might come as a surprise to many Ohioans.

The Ohio House has approved legislation that would place a six-month moratorium on foreclosures in some cases. The Democratic-controlled House voted 54-43, largely along party lines, to approve the bill Wednesday.

It would allow homeowners who can pay at least half of their mortgage payment to put off foreclosure for six months. It also would require lenders to pay $750 to the state when they initiate foreclosure proceedings.

Democrats say it will let more people stay in their homes and give the parties more time to agree on a new plan.

A potent combination of economics and politics has Ohio lawmakers facing the prospect of repairing a hole of at least $2,000,000,000 in the next two-year budget in a little over a month.

Ohio lawmakers have scheduled hearings this week on prisons legislation. Lawmakers will also consider a plan to fund bonuses for veterans of the wars in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Ohio Lawmakers Eye Revenue Sources.

Jan 27, 2009

If government spending cuts alone are not enough to fill a projected 7 billion dollar hole in Ohio's next two-year state budget, legislators may have to answer a question they'd rather not face --- what's the better way to raise cash - gambling casinos or a tax hike? Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports it's a debate that actually has THREE sides.

A think-tank that advocates for social welfare programs had a hard time Wednesday convincing Ohio legislators that they should consider raising taxes to help ease the state's 7 billion dollar financial crisis. As statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports, though, the idea of tax hikes isn't dead.

Ohio's jobless picture framed much of the debate at Broad and High during 2008. Lawmakers regulated payday loans and passed legislation to create new jobs. Ohio Public Radio's Bill Cohen has the first of four reports on Ohio politics and government in the past year.

The Ohio Senate has voted to pass a bill that would eliminate the so called golden week - the window of time in which Ohioans can both register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

Ohio's Democratic governor and its Republican House Speaker agree on many things when it comes to education. They even agreed on a program to put money toward college scholarships for kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math. But they're squabbling over the state's commitment to the program based on how much money is in that fund. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.

Ohio House Votes For Jobs Plan

May 22, 2008

The Ohio House of Representatives has approved a two-pronged plan to create jobs while boosting high-tech research, paying for highway improvements, and funding college internships. If state senators add their okay, Ohio voters will help decide part of the plan.

Consumers advocates are cheering, and owners of payday loan stores are jeering now that the Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill, slapping tough new limits on controversial short-term loans. The floor debate focussed not only on the loans, but also on a different topic, gambling.

Columbus Boosters Work To Attract Return Visitors.

Mar 19, 2007

College Basketball fans spent millions of dollars in Columbus during the week-end as they followed their teams in the first and second rounds of the N-C-double-A tournament at Nationwide arena. But, "Experience Columbus," a booster group for the city and region, wants first-time visitors to the city to return. So, the organization is offering something called "experiential tourism."

Republicans who dominate the Ohio Legislature plan to launch committee hearings tomorrow (Tuesday) on a bill to crackdown on illegal immigrants. Legislative leaders hope to get final approval for the plan by the end of the year .but advocates for Hispanics are already vowing to challenge the measure in court, if it becomes law.

Bill Cohen Ohio Public Radio

A legislative committee approved new rules governing how individuals and groups register new voters. The new guidelines were written by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and grew out of a bill Governor Taft signed in January overhauling Ohio election law. Critics are concerned that new rules require paid circulators to return signed registration cards within to either county boards of elections or the secretary of state's office, rather than to the group paying them.