The Ohio Senate on Thursday approved its version of a two-year state budget in a 23-10 vote largely along party lines.
State Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, was the lone Republican to vote against the $71.3 billion spending outline.
The budget is nearly a $10 billion increase over the $62 billion spending outline approved in 2013.
“There were a few good things in there. They did make some income tax cuts. But it was a double-digit spending increase. It funded Obamacare and had pay raises for politicians in there,” said Jordan. “I would have strongly considered voting for it if those large things were taken out.”
Included in the Senate’s version of the budget is a $1.7 billion income tax cut and 5 percent annual pay raised for judges and local elected officials. The spending outline also retains Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“I wish there were more cuts made and people were more serious about tightening their belt,” said Jordan. “A lot of my constituents have had to tighten their belts over the last couple of years.”
Jordan said he introduced about 40 amendments to the budget, none of which would have increased spending and 30 or more that would have reduced expenditures.
While Jordan did not introduce the amendment, he did work with fellow senators who were able to insert a provision that would allow property owners who live adjacent to waterways to cut vegetation along waterways, which has been a point of contention with the city of Columbus, which has said the vegetation provides a buffer zone to protect sources of drinking water.
In recent years, the city of Columbus has pursued criminal trespassing charges against several Delaware County residents for trimming or mowing vegetation.
A similar provision was vetoed by Kasich in the previous biennial budget.
Jordan said he worked with fellow legislators to soften the proposal this time around.
“I put a little more work into this one with a couple of legislators to make it less of a blunt tool,” he said. “I think this one has a better shot of making it through.”
The House has passed its own version of the budget. The two chambers will have until June 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year, to iron out the differences in the two documents.
Jordan said he would not rule out voting on the final version of the bill if spending is reduced, and if the Medicaid expansion and pay raises are removed.
“If they address those three things, I would strongly consider it,” he said.