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Conference Committee Sends Compromise Budget Back To Legislature

A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers has signed off on the state's next two-year budget. The committee of lawmakers didn’t make big changes to the budget where taxes or school funding is concerned. But the committee has made smaller changes. It dropped a plan in the budget that would have required casino owners to keep photos of their customers on file for five years for purposes of assisting police operations. Some money that had been set aside to train young readers for state testing will be re-directed to help poor students. One of the biggest areas of change involves abortion related amendments. Under the committee’s plan, abortion providers would have to inform pregnant women, in writing, about the presence of a fetal heartbeat and give pregnant women the option to view or hear that heartbeat. Under the changes, doctors performing abortions would now be required to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion unless there is a medical emergency. The committee’s report also doesn’t address expansion of Medicaid, something Governor Kasich and Democrats want. Democrats are attacking the proposed budget, saying it shows a lack of leadership when it comes to Medicaid. But Republican leaders of the Ohio legislature say this proposed budget invests in the things that matter most to Ohioans. The full Ohio House and Senate is expected to vote on the budget Thursday.