Ohio Budget Reactions: Newspapers Fixate on Abortion, Medicaid Expansion

John Kasich
Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

Reactions to Ohio’s new budget from the state’s largest newspapers have been remarkably similar, with almost every reporter emphasizing Governor John Kasich’s veto of a measure blocking Medicaid expansion and his refusal to veto pro-life language.

Kasich, a Republican, signed the budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 on June 30. Clocking in at more than 5,500 pages, the final budget includes a major expansion of school choice, increased funding for local school districts, an income tax cut paid for with a sales tax increase, and hundreds of other items.

The governor used his line-item veto on 22 provisions, including one that would have taxed Ohioans’ online purchases from out-of-state retailers.

With nearly two dozen vetoes and thousands of pages of tax, spending, and regulatory language to cover, Ohio’s biggest papers fixated on the same two angles: cheering Medicaid expansion while expressing dismay at measures which put abortion providers at the back of the line for grant money and add more notification requirements for doctors performing abortions.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s initial reaction to the budget was titled, “Kasich signs budget, keeps abortion restrictions, leaves door open for Medicaid expansion.”

“Kasich vetoes Medicaid block, not abortion limits,” the Cincinnati Enquirer’s headline announced. The subtitle of the Toledo Blade’s June 30 story mentioned abortion, as well.

“Kasich signs budget, but veto keeps alive Medicaid expansion,” the headline at The Columbus Dispatch read.

“Gov. John Kasich on Sunday evening signed controversial House Bill 59, a nearly $62 billion plan that attempts to spur economic growth while restricting reproductive rights,” Plain Dealer reporter Brandon Blackwell wrote in the second paragraph of his June 30 story, using the tortured pro-abortion language favored by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Blackwell continued, “The Republican governor used his line-item veto to ditch a provision that would bar the state from expanding Medicaid, but held on to the legislature’s tax reform cornerstones and volley against abortion.”

Jim Siegel at the Dispatch began his June 30 news story by writing, “Gov. John Kasich last night vetoed language attempting to block him from moving forward with Medicaid expansion, but did not touch any of the anti-abortion language before signing the new two-year, $62 billion state budget.”

“Gov. John Kasich Sunday night vetoed a provision in the two-year state budget that would have barred Ohio from preparing to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act,” Chrissie Thompson wrote in the opening sentence of her June 30 Enquirer story.

“The Republican governor supports expanding Medicaid coverage to include up to 366,000 uninsured, low-income Ohioans, though many lawmakers in his own party oppose it,” Thompson continued. “Kasich’s veto allows the state to be ready to accept federal money for the expansion Jan. 1, if the General Assembly at some point authorizes it. Discussions on that point continue.”

Thompson added, “Kasich let stand abortion restrictions added to the budget, including a requirement for doctors to do external examinations – likely ultrasounds – to search for fetal heartbeats before performing abortions. The doctors must then tell their patients what they found.”

Jim Provance at the Blade wrote, “Gov. John Kasich used his line-item-veto pen 22 times before signing Ohio’s $62 billion, two-year budget into law Sunday night, but he left intact several controversial provisions seen as restricting abortion.”

Provance continued, “The Republican governor did strike language viewed as posing a barrier to progress on expanding Medicaid and blocking greater federal support for the program while talks continue on the broader expansion that he has sought.”

Laura Bischoff at the Dayton Daily News mentioned Medicaid expansion in the opening paragraph of her story and made it all the way to the third paragraph before noting Kasich did not veto the anti-abortion language.