Medicaid and education programs are in danger of facing cuts in order for Ohio to balance its budget after the rejection of statewide Issue 2, one Ohio State professor said.
Because of budgetary limitations, Ohio government will now have to look to other programs and places to save money, because Gov. John Kasich was unable to pass the legislation known as Issue 2. Issue 2 was intended to alter public employees’ right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits so the government could effectively balance its budget.
After Issue 2 was voted against in the November election, Kasich said the result was an indication that the voice of the people had been heard.
“It is clear the people have spoken,” Kasich said in November. “I have heard their voices, I understand their decision, and frankly, I respect what people have to say.”
David Stebenne, OSU professor of law and history, told The Lantern that now Ohio’s Medicaid budget might face cuts.
“The groups that don’t tend to have political power tend to be the poor and the programs that service them, unfortunately,” Stebenne said. “So the Medicaid budget is most likely going to shrink.”
He said the problem with cutting Medicaid is that it is the single biggest thing in the state budget to be cut and is primarily a long-term care program.
“In other words, it is a service for a lot of elderly individuals who are unable to pay for nursing home fees,” Stebenne said. “So it will be interesting to see if that gets cut, will these individuals need in-home care with a relative, or what will happen to them?”
Stebenne said the Ohio legislature will not be able to do anything drastic concerning public employees, so other programs might experience the downfall.
“If the government goes for public employees again, it will be a much more gradual, realistic approach,” Stebenne said.
Doug Stern, an Ohio firefighter and avid protestor of Issue 2, said he believes Ohioans don’t want anything extreme.
“I think what Issue 2 taught us is that the citizens of Ohio don’t want extremist policies or cuts,” he said. “They don’t want to see their neighbors affected, their friends.”
Kathy Stewart, an account examiner for the State of Ohio architect’s office, said as long as the Ohio government is one-party, she doesn’t feel public employees are safe from cuts.
“I think that we really have to pay attention who we’re voting for and what they stand for, and that will determine if public employees get attacked again,” Stewart said. “Because as far as I’m concerned, the one-party system is not working.”
Other areas like education, on a local and state level, might be affected as well, Stebenne said.
“On the state level, we have higher education,” Stebenne said. “Can you keep raising the costs of Ohio State and places like it if the education budget continues to shrink? Or will the students and the parents or the voters rebel?”
On the local level, Stebenne said many school districts will take hits.
“If state spending on education will drop, will voters choose to pay more in taxes at the local level?” Stebenne said. “In the most recent election cycle, with the exception of affluent communities, voters answered that with no.”
Stebenne said local school districts will be facing cuts now, more than ever.
“Ohio is special because the budget was rebalanced all at once,” Stebenne said. “But the way they’ve rebalanced it is to basically pass along the cuts to local jurisdictions. And even though the state budget was balanced last spring and summer, the cutting is going on now.”