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Government


Cuyahoga County executive says the state budget was cloak and dagger
Gubernatorial candidate says if Republicans thought Ohioans support severe restrictions on abortions, they would have passed the measures openly
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says he will fight against budget amendments on women's issues.
Courtesy of Jo Ingles
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In The Region:

The Cuyahoga County executive who would like to be Ohio’s next governor is taking the Republican governor and legislative leaders over the newly passed state budget. And the fight against the new budget is being pursued in different ways.

LISTEN: INGLES ON FITZGERALD

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Democrat Ed FitzGerald says Gov. Kasich and Republican lawmakers were trying to pull a fast one on Ohio voters when they passed several provisions in the state budget that dealt with abortion and birth control.

"If Gov. Kasich and his Republican allies really believed that these extreme measures when it came to women’s health were something the state agreed on and they believed in their position, they wouldn’t have done it in the dead of night and inserted it in the budget in the 11th hour," FitzGerald says.

Speaking for women
FitzGerald says the budget measures that put restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors and reprioritize funding for family planning will be a political problem for Kasich.

"Do I think it’s good for Governor Kasich politically to insert himself between a woman and her doctor?  No," FitzGerald says. "Do I think it’s going to hurt him politically? Yea, I do. "

FitzGerald says he thinks a legal fight is in the works for some of these provisions because they violate freedom of speech issues. He says he has been part of a group looking at starting a voter initiative, much like the one used a few years ago to bring about a statewide smoking ban. He syays that could force the legislature to come back and get rid of the provisions affecting women. That is something he thinks could happen.

"I have a feeling when they hear, not just from myself, but an entire coalition that will represent the vast majority of women in Ohio and some men as well, I think there are some politicians in the legislature [who will] rethink this," FitzGerald says. "It’s much easier to vote for something when you don’t have debate and discussion... than when you actually have to defend your vote to your constituents.  That never really happened in this process."

FitzGerald says democrats and their supporters could collect signatures to put the issues on the ballot in the fall of 2014.

Some say he's not
Protesters gather outside the Democratic Party Headquarters to support the budget.Republican State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda and her colleague Nan Baker gather across the street from the Democratic Party Headquarters with a group of women who support the budget. Baker says the women’s issues in the budget were properly vetted. And she says belated criticism by Democrats of funding for rape crisis centers is especially unwarranted.

"It’s a great bill, unanimously supported," Baker says. "How can we now be hypocritical and say now that, 'Oops. I didn’t know what I voted for?' That just doesn’t make sense to me."

Democrats say they back the bill that gave funding to rape crisis centers but were led to believe language prohibiting counselors from talking about abortion would be removed. It wasn’t.

But Baker doesn’t think the Democrats are interpreting the legislation correctly anyway.

The fight over the women’s issues in this budget continues even as the whole Legislature has adjourned for the summer. But the fight is just heating up.

Democrats have set up a new website and they are hoping to use it to mobilize efforts to fight in court, and in the court of public opinion, between now and Election Day next year.

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