Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine [Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau]

DeWine Says He Has Options After Budget Cuts, but Tax Hike isn’t Among Them

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — With a state budget deficit of three quarters of a billion dollars and just two months left in the fiscal year, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered huge cuts to schools, Medicaid and other areas. He says he’s considering other options going forward, but he has ruled out one possibility.

It’s hard to predict the long-term economic forecast right now, though the state’s budget director Kim Murnieks has said she’s feeling positive.

DeWine said he’s asked for more flexibility with federal dollars for budget holes at the state and local level, and he says that “every penny” in the $2.7 billion in the rainy day fund will be used at some point.

But DeWine said he won’t propose a tax increase.

“I think that would be a mistake, Karen, to do a tax increase at this point,” DeWine said in an interview for “The State of Ohio” coming this week. “Look, we’ve been hit. We don’t need to do anything else to put the brakes on the economy. We need to be going the other way.”

A tax increase would be almost certainly dead on arrival in the Republican dominated legislature anyway.

DeWine was Gov. George Voinovich’s lieutenant governor in 1992, when Voinovich faced a budget hole and proposed a package of taxes on tobacco products, beer and wine, soft drinks, sports and country club memberships. But there were no increases in sales or income taxes. Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-led Senate passed the bill by a wide margin.