COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohioans would see a 17 percent income tax cut and a two-year college tuition freeze under a trimmed-down budget plan Gov. John Kasich unveiled Monday.
The Republican governor pays for the programs through tax hikes on alcohol, tobacco products and gas drilling. He also imposes a half-percent increase in the state sales tax, from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent, and extends it to additional services, including cable TV subscriptions, elective cosmetic surgery and lobbying.
His $66.9 billion, two-year spending blueprint also relies on $200 million from a new monthly premium that would be charged to Medicaid beneficiaries who are childless, not pregnant and have an income level above the poverty level.
Kasich said the budget balances investments that support Ohio’s economic stability while grappling with scarce state resources. Covering the two years beginning July 1, the budget spends $4.3 billion less than the previous one.
Kasich proposes modest additional spending for K-12 schools, higher education and prisons, while delivering flat funds or cuts to many other agencies.
Budget Director Tim Keen described the budget as the toughest he’s ever had to write. He said it prioritizes education.
The budget would not only freeze college tuitions but also general fees and special fees at the schools for two years. The institutions would be required to provide student textbooks by fall 2018, and could charge a $300 fee to cover part of the cost.