Sweeping Ohio budget heads to governor's desk

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A sweeping, nearly $56 billion state budget has cleared the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature and is headed to the governor for his expected signature.

The Ohio House voted 59-40 Wednesday on the two-year spending plan that contains many of Gov. John Kasich's policy changes for the state, including an overhaul of Medicaid, a new merit-based pay system for teachers and the sale or lease of certain state assets.

State lawmakers did put their mark on the spending blueprint, adding a proposal to eliminate the state's estate tax by 2013 and a reward program for high-performing schools.

Kasich, a first-term Republican, planned to sign the bill Thursday evening, a day before the new fiscal year begins for the state. The bill cleared the GOP-controlled Senate on a 22-11 vote Tuesday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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