Rep. Antonio: Local Communities Shortchanged By Tax Increase
Under GOP proposal, income tax breaks prioritized over drilling communities

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) on Wednesday voted against House Bill 375, legislation that increases the tax rate on oil and gas drilling in Ohio, but returns little money to the local communities in which the drilling takes place. 

“How disappointing to use a small severance tax to give wealthy Ohioans an income tax cut rather than use the funds for responsible community services,” said Rep. Antonio.

House Republicans’ plan to alter Ohio’s severance tax to 2.5 percent would establish Ohio as the only state in the country to require oil and gas revenue–which is predominantly generated in rural and Appalachian working-class communities–to pay for an income tax cut that disproportionately favors Ohio’s wealthiest citizens. 

Most other major drilling states reserve the revenue generated from oil and gas drilling for investment in local communities, education, and transportation. Under the Republican proposal for Ohio, the first $21 million raised in oil and gas tax revenue will go to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for drilling regulation. Seventeen and a-half percent of the remaining revenue would go to local governments, while 82.5 percent will pay for the income tax cuts.

Democrats offered several amendments including a proposal that would increase the amount of money that would return to the communities most impacted by drilling and another that would provide more money for local governments that continue to struggle due to recent cuts in the state budget. GOP lawmakers blocked the proposals from formal consideration by the House.

"This is a missed opportunity for all Ohioans,” said Rep. Antonio.

The bill passed by a vote of 55 to 35. It now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences released the report “Taking Measure of Ohio’s Opioid Crisis” Tuesday, highlighting the grim realities many in the state are experiencing, but also making a case for greater treatment access and expanded educational and economic opportunities for Ohioans.

“This report confirms that treatment is necessary to stem the tide of this opioid crisis, and clearly we do not have enough treatment options currently available,” said Antonio. “We can do better. We must do better. Taxpayers deserve better economic opportunities, a strong and affordable educational foundation, and greater access to healthcare services – all things that we know will prevent opioid addiction and abuse.”

The report points to low education levels and limited job opportunities as central underlying causes of opioid abuse.