A lot has changed in this state since I first joined the Ohio Legislature in 1968. As I’ve worked for you and your family in Columbus, I have had a front-row seat to many of the legislative changes that have affected Ohioans in significant ways. Unfortunately, throughout the years I have also seen our state government become increasingly inefficient and, in many cases, embedded in the affairs of local governments.

It’s a sad thing to see a state that used to lead the nation in so many areas fall into a pattern of decline. But I returned to the House of Representatives to take action and find ways of improving our state, making it the trail-blazing beacon of success that it once was. As speaker of the Ohio House, I have the honor of guiding this fine institution in passing legislation that will help us create a prosperous tomorrow for future generations of Ohioans.

Creating jobs, making state government more accountable and empowering our citizens are certainly the priorities of this General Assembly. We are two months into the 129th Legislative session, and we have already gotten the ball rolling and the discussions and debates started.

For example, the House has passed a bill that alleviates our local school districts from some of the mandates imposed by the previous General Assembly, ensuring our local schools aren’t penalized for not spending dollars in a way the state has mandated they be spent. While these mandates were well intended, they put an added financial strain on the schools at a time when they have not a dime to spare.

The last thing we need is our state government forcing districts into budget imbalance when we haven’t even been able to get our own financial house in order. It is simply unnecessary and ends up harming our children. By eliminating many of these pricey requirements—including mandated all-day, every-day kindergarten—we are giving added flexibility to the teachers, school boards and community members who know their budget situations best.

The school regulations that passed during the previous General Assembly would not be nearly as troublesome if the state had the money to pay for them, but at this point, we must be saving all that we can. That’s why I am also in support of a bill to reduce government waste and make state spending more effective, which will ensure that our businesses and families do not suffer from unnecessarily high taxes and disorganized government down the road.

House Bill 2 requires that the Ohio Auditor of State conduct a performance audit of certain state agencies on a biennial basis, which will allow us to closely evaluate these agencies as a means of making sure that we are not wasting valuable tax dollars. Auditor Dave Yost is in support of the bill and has even volunteered that his own office be audited first. Through reviewing the operation of state agencies and the important services they deliver to the people of Ohio, we can ensure that these functions are being performed in the most cost-effective way so we can stretch our dollars further.

We must not allow Ohio to continue on a downward economic slope. By putting in place solutions such as reversing financially unmanageable mandates and auditing state agencies, we will gradually rebuild Ohio’s economy and empower families, which will secure a brighter tomorrow for our children. We have a lot to do but we have a great start.


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