The passage of House Bill 64, our state’s main operating budget, shows the recent progress we have made here in Ohio. Just a few years ago, our friends and neighbors struggled with the devastation of a global recession. Unemployment spiked, the economy slowed to a crawl, and many people wondered how they would find ways to pay the bills. Today, we are celebrating new jobs, economic growth, and a realistic path to prosperity. We can now look forward to our future, and the many bright possibilities before us in Ohio, an approach that helped us craft the budget.


The centerpiece of this budget is a near $2 billion tax cut. Our commitment to cutting income taxes now brings the top marginal rate below 5 percent for the first time since 1982. Holding most other taxes at current levels, we are embracing simplicity, stability, transparency and a pro-growth policy, four principles of taxation that are critical to create jobs and grow our economy.


On top of that, we worked to improve our small business environment by exempting taxes on the first $250,000 in business-related income, with a flat 3-percent tax on earnings above that threshold. Small business owners and entrepreneurs will find Ohio is the most competitive state in terms of tax structure, access to capital and commitment to workforce development. This translates to more creativity and innovation by those who are most able to drive our economy forward. And, most importantly, we will see more money available to create high-wage employment opportunities right here at home.


The budget is balanced in structure and in principle. As a state, we are holding government spending growth to 2 percent, which is well below the inflation rate. Even with the substantial tax cuts in the budget, we are still sitting on one of the biggest surpluses the state has seen in recent memory, a signal of our vastly improved economic wellbeing. This type of forward-thinking strategy will pay dividends for years to come, especially as other states are struggling to balance their own budgets.


Our budget is also comprehensive. We have committed more money to our K-12 education system than we ever have, and our funding formula more accurately directs the money where it belongs, to the individual student. Rising higher-education costs are held in check by tuition freezes at our public colleges and universities, and career-technical education receives more support to train our next generation of hard-working employees.


At a local level, cities, counties, townships and villages will have more state support to train the law enforcement officers who work so hard to protect our communities. Grant programs will provide new opportunities for local government to partner with each other, modernize resources and strategies, and enhance safety measures. County fairs see an increase in funding, as do our local libraries. The highly successful Historic Preservation Tax Credit will continue its good mission to revitalize our historic buildings and maintain our heritage, especially at a time when our downtowns are embracing their history more than ever.


Overall, this budget allows us to take our eyes off of our rear view mirror so we can watch the road ahead instead. My vision for the 88th House District and the entire state of Ohio is to find the best path to sustainable prosperity. I am proud to support this budget as a way to help get us all on that path.


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