- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Gov. John Kasich said he was pleased with the two-year, $71.2 billion state operating budget that lawmakers sent him on Friday, but he noted some items would get vetoed.

The Republican governor, who appeared at a news conference with GOP legislative leaders, declined to go into the details.

“We try to be and have been pretty sparing,” Kasich told reporters. “But there are going to be some vetoes and there will probably be some disagreements on the vetoes.”

Kasich said he hasn’t made a final decision on what to strike from the sweeping budget bill. Tuesday is his deadline to sign it.

The governor praised the budget’s tax cuts, relief for small businesses and state investments in education, while describing a proposal to create a health savings account for some on the Medicaid program as “as a little clunky.”

The budget plan spends $955 million more in basic state aid for K-12 schools than the last two-year period, with no district getting less than what it got this year. It also boosts state funding for higher education to help offset a two-year tuition freeze at public universities. Colleges also must propose ways to reduce student costs by 5 percent.

The spending measure would provide a 6.3 percent state income tax cut beginning in tax year 2015 as a part of a roughly $1.9 billion net tax reduction. That would lower the top income tax rate to just below 5 percent.

“What we’ve achieved here we should be able to crow about from the roof of this Capitol and across our great state,” Kasich said.

Smokers would see a 35-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes under the bill, which also set aside money for police training, eliminates special elections in February and prohibits independent health care and child care workers under contract with the state from unionizing.

The spending plan does not include a proposed tax increase on Ohio oil-and-gas drillers that had been a priority for Kasich.

Instead, legislative leaders announced earlier this month that a task force would review the issue and report back by Oct. 1.

Kasich said he would continue to push for the idea and believed the leaders were serious about achieving something.

“Things don’t always happen overnight,” he said. “And it’s an issue that people are concerned about.”

Earlier Friday, the Republican-dominated House voted 61-32 to send the measure to the governor.

Ahead of the vote, House Democrats criticized the budget agreement, saying it fails to properly fund education and makes tax changes that shift burdens from the wealthy to the middle class and the poor. They also criticized provisions that they say attack organized labor rights and create barriers to getting health care for some people.

Rep. Denise Driehaus of Cincinnati, the top Democrat on the House Finance Committee, said the budget was a missed opportunity.

“We as a General Assembly had an opportunity to create something that really was meaningful and that really would help the majority of the citizens of the state, and this budget fails that test,” Driehaus said.

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Associated Press writer Kantele Franko contributed to this report.

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