The Post, 8/17/2011

With the skyrocketing federal deficit, there has been a lot of discussion recently on what can be done to fix the problem, whether it be making massive spending cuts, increasing taxes, or finding another revenue source. But outside of the ideological gridlock in Washington, the state of Ohio has been taking care of its own problems and addressing them. In fact, the Ohio House has worked hard to reconfigure how money is spent and grow our economy. As a result, Standard and Poor's upgraded Ohio's credit rating thanks to improved fiscal management in the state and passing a budget that closed a roughly $8 billion deficit without raising taxes.

Since January, House Republicans have made improvements in the tax code, a cornerstone of the legislative process. At a time when Ohio's residents and businesses are feeling the harsh consequences of a stagnant economy, the worst thing we can do is take more from hard-working families and tax businesses out of success.

Some of our initiatives were taken up in the state operating budget, in which the most notable of changes was the elimination of Ohio's estate tax. More commonly called the "death tax," we will do away with this unfair double-tax starting in 2013. The change is aimed at helping families, small businesses, and farmers across the state. The death tax discourages savings and investment, sending more Ohioans out of state and keeping others from coming here to build their own business. It's time for our citizens to be comfortable knowing that their assets can be handed down to those who they love upon death without the government taking more.

Another aspect of the budget that will encourage investment is InvestOhio. Under this program, Ohioans who invest in a small business can receive a tax credit of 10 percent if they keep the investment for at least two years. With the huge impact that small businesses have on our economy, this has the potential to encourage up to $1 billion in new, job-creating investments over the next two years alone. On top of that, Ohioans will pay around $1 billion less in income taxes over the next two years.

Even early on this General Assembly, the House was taking the initiative to create a better tax code for Ohioans. House Bill 58 provided financial relief to taxpayers by incorporating into Ohio law the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010." This extends the tax reductions enacted by President Bush, which are estimated to save taxpayers in our state $48.5 million over the next three fiscal years. The bill also has a job retention tax credit for businesses that have received offers to relocate out of Ohio, helping to retain vital jobs and economic activity in our state.

Aside from all that we have done to create a responsible tax code and strengthen Ohio, there is more to be done in the coming months. Specifically, we will continue to look at legislation that has been introduced to offer tax credits to companies that increase economic activity. One bill would authorize an income tax withholding credit to employers who hire a previously unemployed individual, getting more Ohioans back to work and alleviating strain on small businesses. Another bill provides a tax credit to incentivize businesses moving into vacant facilities in order to revitalize communities that have been devastated by industry deterioration or job loss.

As we continue to look at such legislation, it's important to note that House members are doing all they can to stretch your tax dollars further so that you will not have to pay the government more money down the road. Additionally, we continue to seek ways of spending more responsibly and allowing for financial flexibility at the local level. With the right changes to how Ohio spends and does business, I'm confident that we can increase the likelihood of a stronger economy and provide a better livelihood for all Ohioans.


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