Bill Spaun, Ohio Representative Jay Edwards, Brad Cole abd Meigs County commissioners Mike Bartrum and Tim Ihle listen during a February meeting about the Managed Care sales tax in Pomeroy, Ohio. (Daniel Linhart/WOUB)

Counties Hope for Override of Tax Revenue Veto

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Southeastern Ohio counties are waiting, yet again, to see whether they will receive funds they say are vital to their budgets.

Local legislators and county commissioners agencies are among those hoping to see the override of Governor John Kasich’s veto to an amendment that would have made up for the county’s loss of Medicaid managed care sales tax funds.

State Representative Jay Edwards, of Nelsonville, said he plans to be a part of the override to the veto planned by the legislature on Thursday.

“(The amendment’s) really not costing the state anymore, it would generate more money while going to the counties, and for some reason our governor is against that,” Edwards told WOUB. “I don’t understand why he’s so against local government funding.”

The more than $200 million included in the Dolan Amendment, which made it into the budget just before a joint session met to vote on the final budget, was a welcome change to the hundreds of thousands that could be lost if the managed care sales tax is taken from counties.

The amendment would have raised the franchise fee for those that provide Medicaid managed care services.

But the amendment was vetoed by Governor John Kasich On Friday night.

Before the budget was passed in the legislator, the governor’s office had proposed “temporary, need-based support” to counties losing the funding. That included two types of “transition assistance.”

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio submitted a letter to Kasich asking him to retain the budget provision.

CCAO Executive Director Suzanne Delaney said she’s heard from many counties around the state about the damage the loss of funds could have on their programs.

“A lot of times the first thing they have to look at are taking down non-statutorily mandated programs, such as 4H, soil and water programs, economic development,” Delaney said. “Those are not required programs but they certainly do mean a lot at the county and community level.”

The Meigs County Commissioners have been cited as some of the most tireless fighters of the tax cuts.

Meigs County would lose $580,000 in tax revenue under the change. County Commissioner Randy Smith said that represents a loss of about 10 percent of the county’s operating budget.

Counties like Athens, Vinton and Gallia would also lose large chunks of their operating budgets.

Smith spent the better part of last month begging legislative committees to help them with funding, instead of waiting for an old industry to save them.

“Our responsibility is to try to diversify this area, instead of sitting here holding our breath hoping one day that the coal mine genie is going to come down and grant us the wish of opening our coal mines back up.”

House members are set to discuss the vetos on Wednesday, before they vote on Thursday.