Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2007
A man with a plan
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told
Valley senior citizens that he won't
compromise on his top three priorities.
YOUNGSTOWN When dealing with the Republican-controlled General Assembly, Gov. Ted Strickland says he fully realizes the need for a "give-and-take" process to get the state's two-year budget passed.
But the Democratic governor said there is no room for compromise on his three top priorities.
"I'll go to the wall on these," Strickland said Tuesday, adding that he has the ability to use a line-item veto on a budget bill passed by the state Legislature.
Those three priorities are:
* Not raising the tuition at public colleges and universities next year and an increase of no more than 3 percent in 2009 in exchange for increasing the basic instructional subsidy to those schools by 5 percent in 2008 and 2 percent the following year.
* Providing Medicaid insurance coverage for Ohio children whose parents make up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line, and providing the opportunity for parents above the limit to buy into coverage. The federal poverty line for a family of four is $20,650.
* Expanding the homestead property tax exemption to all Ohioans who are age 65 and older and those who are permanently and totally disabled. There is an annual income cap of $27,000 on those eligible for the exemption. Strickland, formerly of Lisbon, wants to remove the cap, which means even wealthy property owners would become eligible for the benefit.
"The major things that have to be done ... must be done," Strickland said.
Where he stopped
Strickland stopped Tuesday at the Senior Center of Mahoning County in Youngstown and the Ceramic City Senior Citizens Center in East Liverpool to talk, primarily to senior citizens, about his budget, concentrating on his plan to expand the homestead property exemption.
The state would replace the property tax revenue lost through the homestead plan by securing future tobacco settlement funds, Strickland said.
Strickland is traveling around the state touting his budget plan. This was the governor's first stops in the Mahoning Valley since he was sworn in as governor Jan. 8.
After talking at the center, Strickland said he's received a lot of positive feedback on his budget priorities from citizens and legislators.
Strickland said he meets regularly with Republican leadership in the Legislature and answers all of its questions about his proposals but hasn't received a commitment of support.
Other proposals outlined by Strickland in last month's State of the State address include a moratorium on charter schools as well as prohibiting for-profit companies from operating them.
Strickland also wants the state to invest $1 billion over the next four years on alternative and renewable energy programs, and eliminate the state's school voucher program except in Cleveland.
The Ohio House is expected to vote on Strickland's budget proposal as early as this month. It then goes to the state Senate and must be adopted no later than June 30. The state's fiscal year starts July 1.