Ohio governor unveils cuts, privatization in budget

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:37 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich on Tuesday unveiled a $55.5 billion two-year budget that sells off five prisons and slices aid to local governments to help close an $8 billion budget gap.

The proposal preserves an $800 million income tax cut and provides $34 million in tax incentives that Kasich hopes will lure jobs to the state, which has suffered big job losses in recent years.

"This budget is woven with one reform after another." Kasich told reporters.

The budget follows Kasich's push to curb collective bargaining rights for public employee unions in the nation's seventh-largest state. Several states are pursuing similar curbs in one of the gravest threats to unions in decades.

Last week, Kasich said he would change the state's system of nursing homes for the elderly and how it administers the Medicaid health insurance program.

(Reporting by Jo Ingles; additional reporting by Karen Pierog and Andrew Stern)