“Yes, we have … disagreements, and we’ll have them in the future,” he said. “This budget speaks to what pulls us together. It reminds us that we have so much more in common than the things that pull us apart.”
Democrats had asked for dozens of line-item vetoes, and while DeWine agreed on a few, he let multiple controversial policies stand. Those included major expansion of private school vouchers, new restrictions on abortion facilities, and allowing health care providers to decline services based on religious beliefs.
COVID business veto
DeWine vetoed budget language that would have refunded fines paid by businesses that violated the state’s COVID safety protocols. He said the vast majority of bars, restaurants and other businesses worked hard to follow the rules.
“There were just a few outliers who time after time violated the rules, did not make sure that their customers were safe,” he said. “To say … there’s no consequences for what you did — that would simply not be right. It would send a horrible, horrible message.”
One of DeWine’s vetoes saved Ohio Medicaid from having to halt reforms that are years in the making.
Ohio Medicaid is transforming its clunky bureaucracy and re-awarding billions of dollars in contracts with new spending conditions, which should translate to better care for the 3 million Ohioans covered by the health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The state had already named the winners of the largest contracts under the new system, including Dayton-based CareSource. But then a Senate budget amendment would have restarted the process with new rules favoring Toledo-based ProMedica and subsidiary Paramount, which had lost their bid.
The amendment was backpedaled in conference committee and completely stricken by DeWine’s veto.
DeWine called it one of the more difficult decisions he’s made as governor, saying he knows how important the company is to Toledo, but he said he wouldn’t risk a carefully designed plan to improve care for children and the poor.
A previous iteration of the state budget threatened to shut down the Dayton region’s only abortion clinic in Kettering but that language was removed by legislators earlier this week and the clinic appears to be in the clear.
Women’s Med Center in Kettering can operate despite having no transfer agreement with a local hospital as required by law because the Ohio Department of Health granted the clinic a license under an exemption called a variance. That variance is predicated on four local doctors agreeing to treat patients in an emergency.
The earlier budget language would have prohibited those doctors from teaching at a state-funded hospital or medical school, but that was removed from the bill. All four of the physicians signed onto the Kettering clinic’s variance are affiliated with the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
Language requiring doctors signed onto a variance to work within 25 miles of the facility remained in the final budget. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region President & CEO Kersha Deibel denounced the legislation for creating unnecessary barriers to abortion. It appears that Women’s Med Center and the only other abortion clinic operating under a variance, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region’s Mount Auburn Health Center, are in compliance with that rule.
DeWine left that measure in, saying Thursday that he agrees with the budget language and welcomes any protests that come.
- School choice: DeWine is a school choice supporter. One veto ensures that all families applying for EdChoice private school vouchers are entitled to an expedited approval process. But another veto prevents low-performing charter schools serving children with disabilities to switch sponsors easily.
- Redistricting lawsuits: DeWine vetoed language that would have allowed state legislative leaders to intervene in future lawsuits over drawing legislative district boundaries. DeWine said the item conflicts with both court precedent and separation of powers doctrine, adding that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost formally requested he veto it.