More than $1B loss projected in budget
COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio stands to lose more than $1 billion in the next two-year budget as it phases out a sales tax structure that hauled in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money.
The Columbus Dispatch reports nearly $400 million in additional county and transit authority sales taxes are also projected to be lost.
Since 2009, Ohio has charged a sales tax on services provided through Medicaid managed-care organizations to benefit from federal matching funds.
Counties and transit authorities benefited through additional local sales taxes.
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services two years ago prohibited taxing only managed-care companies that deal with Medicaid.
State officials say they’ll look at how other states deal with similar challenges.
12 die in crashes over holiday
COLUMBUS — Twelve people were killed in crashes on Ohio roads over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports the deaths happened in 11 separate crashes from Friday to Monday.
The patrol says drivers were impaired in four of those fatal crashes.
Troopers made 673 arrests for impaired driving over the weekend and responded to 655 crashes.
The twelve deaths over the holiday weekend were up over the eight a year ago.
Gas prices continue to drop
COLUMBUS — Motorists are finding Ohio’s gas prices have continued to fall in time for the holiday.
A gallon of regular gas in Ohio was averaging $2.20 in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That’s down 13 cents from the $2.33 reported this time last week and nearly 40 cents below the state average a month ago.
Monday’s national average was higher than Ohio’s at $2.27.
This time last year, the state average was $2.72 and the national average was $2.77.
Demand for gasoline is high for the summer driving season, but motorists continue to see savings at the pump. That is partly due to crude oil remaining relatively less expensive than in recent years.
New ODOT app offers real-time updates
COLUMBUS — Travelers can get real-time Ohio highway traffic updates through the state Department of Transportation’s new free app, OHGO (OH’-goh).
It mirrors the name and style of the website where the department shares traffic alerts, construction delays and other updates about verified problems. Users see maps showing green, yellow or red lines indicating how well traffic is flowing on highways.
A spokesman says it can help users plan their travel before departing. They can see live views from roadside cameras and get notifications about problem spots along specific routes, such as their usual commute path. The app’s hands-free option provides audio alerts when a problem appears nearby.
The app was launched before the busy Fourth of July weekend, when auto club AAA predicts 1.8 million Ohioans will be traveling.
Report: Scarce information on juvenile justice
COLUMBUS — There’s limited information available about what happens to thousands of juveniles who end up in the Ohio justice system, according to a newly released report by the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio.
Few of the state’s 88 juvenile court systems keep comprehensive data on juveniles who pass through their doors, and less than half of the courts contacted by the nonprofit had a publicly available report on their cases, according to the new report.
Under state law, each court is required to prepare those reports annually and file them no later than June. The nonprofit has called on the state to implement a comprehensive juvenile justice data collection system for Ohio. According to the report, 95 percent of the unruly and delinquency cases in the state aren’t comprehensively tracked by any entity.
“We’re spending millions of dollars — we don’t even know how many million — on juvenile justice without knowing if we’re getting what we’re paying for,” Erin Davies, the coalition’s executive director, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Of the juvenile court systems that did publish annual reports, only 13 had data on how many minors were charged with misdemeanors and felonies, according to the report.
“How can we not know what happens to youth in Ohio’s courts?” coalition organizer Amber Evans told Cleveland.com. “Communities have to know how courts are truly keeping them safe.”
The report also found that spending on juvenile court systems varies widely from county to county, ranging last year from $116,000 to $45 million.