County discusses cuts

By Nikki Blankenship -

Scioto County Commissioners are preparing for countywide cuts after Gov. John Kasich’s veto of the budget bill provision that would replace funding lost as a result of the Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) sales tax elimination.

“After months of calling, writing and working with our legislators in Columbus, Gov. Kasich decided to turn his back on the counties of Ohio by vetoing a common sense long term approach to resolving the MCO tax crisis,” Davis said. “The Seitz/Dolan amendment widely supported by Senators and Representatives in Columbus, including Senator Joe Uecker and Rep. Terry Johnson, plugged the hole that will be created by the loss of this sales tax revenue.”

The budget amendment sought to require the state to seek federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reset the franchise fee on health insuring corporations (HICs) to raise up to an additional $207 million per year, a portion of which may be used to help address Medicaid MCO reimbursement. If federal approval is granted, the state would annually distribute payments beginning soon after July 2018 to counties and transit authorities for six years. The amendment also retains the original transition aid contained in the executive budget proposal that makes one-time payments to counties and transit authorities in FY 2018 based on counties’ reliance, as determined by the administration’s formula.

“The governor proposed a much shorter fix that would leave many counties unable to recover from the loss of revenue in an adequate amount of time,” Davis commented. “Scioto County stands to lose $2.1 million per year. This is roughly 17% of our sales tax revenue.”

Davis explained that with the cut, Scioto County will likely experience the loss of many loved community services and programs. Those departments that the County is not legally mandated to operate are in real danger of being defunded and not at the wish of the County.

“This loss will possibly result in major cutbacks in popular non-mandated programs such as 4-H, soil and water conservation and economic development to mention a few,” Davis said. “Mandated departments will also see sizeable cuts. Just at a time when Scioto County is on the rise, budgets are balanced, and economic indicators are improving, Scioto County stands to lose momentum.”

Davis remains hopeful that leaders in Columbus will override Kasich’s veto. The County is expected to have a final decision by Thursday.

“The Scioto County Commissioners are committed to staying fiscally sound. We will continue to fight for the citizens of our county,” Davis confirmed.

Rep. Terry Johnson and Sen. Joe Uecker have both committed their support for the veto override and announced that they have been strongly urged to do so by the public.

“Rep. Johnson has asked that we stop calling his office as they have been bombarded, and his small staff is struggling to handle the huge response,” Davis said. “Thank you Scioto County!! We will let you know about the progress of the veto override Thursday.”

Commissioners are expected to have an update at their regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Scioto County Common Pleas Courthouse on 7th Street in Portsmouth.

By Nikki Blankenship

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

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