COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A state budget that revamps Republican Gov. John Kasich's school funding proposal and restores his small business tax plan passed a GOP-led Ohio Senate panel on Wednesday, after Democratic attempts to boost money for school safety and local governments were sidelined.
The Senate Finance Committee passed the more than $61 billion, two-year spending plan on a party-line vote. A full Senate vote was expected Thursday on the budget, which begins July 1.
The Senate panel made a host of changes, including adding a provision to ban public hospitals from having agreements with abortion clinics to transfer patients.
Abortion rights advocates say the move will force many facilities to close, limiting access to abortions.
"If safe, legal clinics can no longer provide abortion care in Ohio, where will women turn?" Kellie Copeland, executive director of the NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement.
State health department regulations require all ambulatory surgical facilities in Ohio, including abortion providers, to have transfer agreements with hospitals that would take patients in case they experience medical complications.
State Sen. Joe Ueker, a Loveland Republican, offered the amendment because he said it tightens Ohio's prohibition on using public money to support abortions. He said the agreements left open the chance for public hospitals to complete the procedure, should something go wrong at an abortion clinic.
"Someone has to stand up for the rights of the unborn," he said.
Senators also kept a House-added provision to send Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for public family-planning money.
Supporters say other providers of women's health care have sprung up around the state and the move would give those centers a chance at government funds. But critics, including Democrats, argue Planned Parenthood provides needed preventive health care to low-income women that would be jeopardized by the bill.
Underlying the debate is Planned Parenthood's role as a provider of abortions, a procedure supporters of the bill oppose funding with public dollars.
Republicans tabled an amendment from Democratic Sen. Charleta Tavares that would have removed the family-planning and transfer agreement changes.
"We don't need paternalistic, controlling government in our lives," Tavares, of Columbus, told the committee.
Other Democratic proposals that failed to get traction would have delivered $96 million over two year period to local governments and sent schools $34 million each year for safety and security enhancements.
While the governor's budget proposal called for an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law, the Legislature has largely kept the idea separate from the budget bill.
State lawmakers continue to examine ways to change the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, which already provides health care for one of every five residents in the state.
Oelslager told reporters he expected the expansion debate to be kept out of budget negotiations between the House and Senate.
The Senate plan sends an additional $141.6 million in direct state aid to schools, compared with the funding formula the House passed in its version of the budget.
Senators also directed $100 million to the governor's proposed Straight A fund, which will deliver grants to school districts for innovation and efficiency measures. Early childhood education also would get an additional $20 million over the budget period.
Taxes will be among the top issues that negotiators in the House and Senate will have to sort out, when they meet later this month to reconcile their budget differences.
The Senate version of the spending plan scraps the House's income tax cut proposal, while giving tax relief to small businesses.
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Hundreds of people came to the Beeghly campus of Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley for its annual tree lighting ceremony. The festivities were part of the hospital's five-year anniversary celebration.
The area will experience a mixed bag of precipitation Friday and again on Sunday. Snow, sleet and rain are likely Friday. Another weather system will bring snow Sunday afternoon. The snow could be accompanied by freezing rain Sunday night into Monday morning. Then rain Monday when temperatures rise about freezing.
Here in the Valley, local leaders and community activists are talking about how Mandela's life has impacted them and how greatly he will be missed.
Raymond and Nellie Amill said it is an honor for both of their grandsons to be playing in such big games, but they're just glad they're not playing each other.
Friends and family of a Youngstown murder victim honored and celebrated his life Thursday through two of his biggest passions: Music and performance.
The public is welcome to view the eternal flame that arrived at the Boy Scout headquarters in Warren Thursday.
For the 27th year, a community Christmas tree Lighting was held at the Wickliffe Circle Fire Station in Austintown.
The Cardinal Mooney football team is preparing for another state championship game on Friday, but school leaders said it's not just athletics that makes their school stand out.
Mahoning County commissioners are considering a proposal to put a sales tax increase on the May ballot.
As Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley celebrates five years of pediatric care, hospital officials said it is area business that help bring smiles to the faces of their patients.
Five years ago, Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley opened on Market Street in Boardman. It has undergone several expansions since then and more growth is on the way. Click on the videos to see highlights of the hospital.
State Rep. Bob Hagan and a colleague are asking for Congress' help to make railways safer for passengers and people living in surrounding areas.
An animal shelter in Trumbull County is getting a boost in its effort to build a new home.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will return to the Mahoning Valley in May.
Victims of cyberstalking and other technology-based harassment would get better protection under a bill that is headed to the state Senate.
Four local companies took part Thursday in what's being called the "NASA Roadshow."