As the summer approaches, my fellow legislators and I in Columbus find ourselves sorting through one of the most challenging budget bills ever to come across our desks. Originally proposed in March from the governor’s office, this budget reflects the challenge the 129th General Assembly has faced since its beginning: how to fill a financial hole of $8 billion without crippling our economic development through steep tax hikes. As you can imagine, this has been no small undertaking.

As a legislator from an economically hard-hit district such as ours, I am committed to the development of a thriving and competitive job market here in Ohio. It is one of the very few surefire ways of revitalizing our state’s economy, which is the ultimate goal of this budgeting process.

In the House, my colleagues and I have read and carefully reviewed every piece of the budget proposal, spotting some key points where change was necessary. In light of the importance of economic development and job creation, we have drafted Substitute House Bill 153, containing many important amendments to the originally proposed budget that are necessary to securing Ohio’s economy for the long term. Although the bill will see additional changes in the coming days and weeks, it will certainly be one in which we can attract and retain business as a means of securing economic development and building a foundation for future stability.

House Bill 153 provides many ways to do so. For instance, the bill proposes offering full in-state tuition grants for state universities and colleges to Ohio high school graduates who have returned to the state within 10 years of graduating, putting more money and jobs back into our economy. Similarly, the bill will eliminate the estate tax, making Ohio a more attractive place to run a business and retire. Ensuring that this is fertile soil for the development of businesses is vital to rehabilitating our job market.

As a former school board member, I am personally committed to the preservation of our state’s excellent system of education. Our children make up the backbone of our economic future, so we cannot afford to let our system of education suffer from budgetary irresponsibility. Fortunately, the rest of the House members are just as committed to education, and we have been able to provide for it in the budget.

First off, the proposed budget will bring the cost of post-secondary education down by capping state universities’ annual tuition increases at 3.5 percent. Also, the budget provides an additional $40 million per year for the next two years to the school foundation formula while making sure no district receives a cut in state aid greater than 20 percent. House Bill 153 aims to keep our schools functioning as effectively as they possibly can in our economic state, giving Ohio a strong foundation to rebuild its economy.

Facing a financial deficit as large as $8 billion, we must carefully provide a budget that will pull Ohio out of the deficit while keeping taxes down. While this may seem impossible, we have seen in past years that tax hikes are only temporary quick-fixes that burden our middle-class and lower-income families.
With the House’s recent budget proposal, we are looking beyond the present and into the future. I am confident that with the budgetary innovations mentioned here, along with the many others included in House Bill 153, we can work together with Ohioans to start rebuilding our economy from the ground up.


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