During the summer months, legislative activity slows down at the Statehouse. This gives me more opportunity to spend time in the district, meet with constituents and attend fairs and other events.
The most recent major piece of legislation to be passed and signed was the state operating budget, which lays out Ohio’s spending priorities for the next two years. In a bill the size of the budget, nobody is going to get everything they want, but I think the policies contained in the bill will further strengthen our state’s economy and continue us toward a path of job growth.
Among the primary tax reforms was the $2.7 billion income tax cut for individuals and small businesses over the next three years. This is part of an effort to move away from an income-based tax system, which has the effect of taking more from people for their hard work, and instead moving toward a system based on consumption.
I was pleased that the budget did not include a severance tax, an additional tax on oil and natural gas drillers simply for extracting the resources from the ground. This industry is still very new to our state, and policy will adjust over the coming years to reflect Ohio’s needs. But I did not think imposing another tax on an industry that will create jobs and energy opportunities for Ohio and the nation was the right move, and therefore I was happy that no such policy was included in the budget.
There was also a lot of focus for our state’s most vulnerable, including protecting the lives of the unborn. The bill creates the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program, which provides funding to certain private, nonprofit entities that provide services that support and promote childbirth as an alternative to abortion.
To make lives for seniors more comfortable, one provision increases funding for a program that allows eligible senior citizens to receive vital care from the comfort of their own homes.
Jobs numbers and other economic indicators can fluctuate from month to month, but over the past two-and-a-half years Ohio has added more than 160,000 private sector jobs and the tax structure has become more fair and competitive.