Song of the Day: Magic Lantern

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A bill offering bonuses to Ohio veterans who served during recent conflicts is expected to be defeated in the House today, barring some surprise votes.

House Bill 649, which would use up to $200 million in state rainy day funds to provide bonuses of up to $1,000 to veterans who served during the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, is not likely to get the 50 votes needed for passage, unless Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati, decides to vote for the bill – which supporters right now do not expect.

Democrats are expected to vote against the bill on concerns that the state will need rainy day funds to help deal with massive current and upcoming budget shortfalls. They would rather use debt financing, but Republicans led by Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering, oppose adding to the state’s debt and argue it’s better to pay as we go.

So Republicans have to find 50 votes in their 53-member caucus. Two members, Reps. Danny Bubp of West Union and Josh Mandel of Lyndhurst will recuse themselves from the vote because, as recent veterans, each would benefit from it. Republicans also are missing a member who had a death in the family.

So that leaves 50 votes, and Brinkman has expressed serious concerns about the bill, including calling it a “stunt” by state Treasurer Richard Cordray, who crafted the initial debt-financed version that passed the Senate in January. There also may be one or two other Republicans who vote against the bill.

A vote would still have some political impact, putting House Democrats on record voting against bonuses for veterans. Some Democrats have said that when they take control of the House in January, they will pass the bonus bill, funded through debt financing.