State budget remains local concern

By Nikki Blankenship -

During the Scioto County Commissioner’s meeting Thursday, the Commissioners passed an indigent defense reimbursement that shows crime is costly.

“It was a still bill again for April,” Commissioner Bryan Davis commented.

The County submitted a bill for $83,061.06 for the cost of indigent defense. Of that, more than $3,000 was rejected. The County was reimbursed $31,636.53.

“I’ve noticed our indigent defense costs are going up,” Davis stated.

Commissioners also approved a payment for armor and tactical vests for adult probation that Davis says is only coming from the general fund because of the State.

“To give you an idea of the far reaching affects of the Capitol budget, we are actually having to pay some bills for probation right now out of the general fund because they didn’t get their grants yet,” Davis began. “With the Capitol budget up in the air, the DRC (Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections) held up all grants.”

Davis added that the DRC is not saying when grants will be released or if they will be released in full. One grant is even tied to the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (TCAP) budget item, which would keep felony five offenders out of prison. Davis explained that the bill tied to TCAP will require the County to agree to keep all felony five offenders in county jail rather than prison.

As the County awaits the State budget, Commissioners are still hopeful the Governor will pass the amendment that will replace the Medicaid managed care organizations (MCO) tax elimination that will cost the County $2.1 million in funding cuts.

A statement from the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) explains that the amendment will ‘[r]equires the state to seek federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reset the franchise fee on health insuring corporations (HIC) to raise an additional $207 M per year to be distributed to counties and transit authorities.”

If federal approval is granted, the State will distribute payments shortly after July 2018 to counties and transit authorities equal to their Medicaid MCO tax receipts collected during calendar years 2015 and 2016. The payments will sunset after the six-year period. The amendment also retains the original transition aid contained in the executive proposal that makes one-time payments to counties and transit authorities in the fiscal year 2018 based on counties’ reliance, as determined by the administration’s formula.

“Really, I think the only hurdle left is the Governor’s pen,” Davis stated.

In Ohio, the Governor can do a line item veto.

The decision is expected to be finalized any moment.

By Nikki Blankenship

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.