A reversal of fortune now awaits Ohio’s 69th governor after he issued more than 47 vetoes Friday before signing his last state budget deal clocking in at $133 billion in all-funds.
Gov. John Kasich’s executive prowess started out in 2011 unbeatable, but awaits a comeuppance six years later after lawmakers in his own party prepare to potentially override his vetoes, the biggest of which is freezing Medicaid enrollment next year.
According to reports, the Ohio House has a meeting scheduled for Thursday and the Senate is expected to meet the week of July 10. With votes to spare to reach three-fifths majority, 20 in the Senate and 60 in the House, Republicans can show Kasich who holds the power.
After gerrymandered districts filled their political sails in 2014 and last year, Republicans control both chambers of the legislature by super-majority margins – 66 to 33 in the House and 23 to 10 in the Senate. Any fear of a veto by Kasich has all but disappeared if GOP legislative leaders maneuver their ducks in a row enough to override the governor’s veto on any one of his record-setting vetoes, showing him as he enters the twilight of his political career who the real boss is in Columbus these days.
Among top issues where the governor and Republican lawmakers don’t see eye to eye is a provision requiring the state to ask for federal approval to freeze enrollment in Medicaid beginning on July 1, 2018. The House-Senate budget conference committee voted last Tuesday to keep a Senate-passed provision limiting who can enroll in expanded Medicaid.
Ohio’s Medicaid coverage expanded in 2013 to cover more people as part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That expansion now covers more than 725,500 Buckeyes. The decision by Republican legislators forced Kasich to line-item veto it now that he’s become a national spokesman to save it.
The governor stiff-armed GOP lawmakers four years ago when he used an administrative ploy to end-run them on accepting Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid coverage. What he did isn’t forgotten or forgiven, so if he thinks his veto pen is still potent, he’ll likely learn very soon that it’s as limp as his future to stay relevant after he leaves office when a new governor takes his place on Jan. 1, 2019.
The partnership with the federal Affordable Care Act, called Medicaid expansion, offers health coverage for some 725,000 Ohioans earning as much as 38 percent above the federal poverty level. Kasich, who spends lots of time out of the state talking on national TV shows now that he’s adopted a new guise as national chaplain, defends the program that helps Ohioans with opiate addiction and mental health access treatment Ohio wasn’t able to deliver on by itself.
In the nation’s capital again recently, Kasich knew his lines.
“If they don’t want to improve this bill, I’m not for this bill,” he said on what Republicans in Washington have planned for repealing and replacing Obamacare, according to reports. While Kasich has problems with Medicaid, he has no problems with Planned Parenthood being defunded, as his silence on that part of the bill testifies.
As the governor becomes less important each day in Ohio, his last executive budget, which was drastically reformed shortly after he submitted it to the General Assembly, sets up a power struggle he can’t win anymore.