COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 49, the state operating budget. For the first time in several years, the budget as passed by the House limits increased spending at a rate lower than that of inflation. The bill addresses some of Ohio’s most pressing issues, including more than $170 million in funding towards combating Ohio’s opioid epidemic and providing additional resources to schools. Rep. Ron Young (R-Leroy Township) voted in support of the legislation.
To underscore the importance of combating the state’s deadly opioid epidemic, which cost Ohio over 3000 deaths in 2016, the House appropriated funds totaling $170.6 million in new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda.

“This scourge must be stopped,” Rep. Young said. “It’s literally killing our young people and causing untold harm to the very fabric of our community.” The plan includes $80 million towards treatment and $50 million directed towards children impacted by the drug epidemic, such as Child Protected Services and kinship care.

Enhancing opportunities for all Ohioans is a central component of the state operating budget through additional school funding, ensuring that students have the resources to learn and grow. House Bill 49 increases funding compared to the executive budget proposal by more than $90 million over the biennium.

The budget as passed by the House also eliminated the sales tax increases that the governor’s budget proposed on numerous items such as cable TV subscriptions, elective surgical procedures, landscape and interior design, travel agent services, tobacco, alcohol, and oil and natural-gas production. “I was glad to be a part of rejecting these tax increases,” said Young. “Raising taxes often has a long-term negative impact on the economy and state revenue.”

Rep. Young was proud to announce that the Perry School System and the Perry Fire district, both of which were being profoundly and negatively impacted by the loss of property tax valuation, at the nuclear plant have received substantial state aid in this budget.  Rep. Young also championed other amendments geared specifically to the needs of Lake County which were accepted into the House-passed version of the budget. They include:

• $500,000 allocated to the Lake County Regional Response Facility, which will house, protect and deploy 20 specialized response units, trailers and emergency supplies to handle regional emergencies as part of the National Incident Management System.
• Nuclear Safety and Protection Fund has been created specifically to provide additional monies for the Perry Twp. joint fire district for the protection of the region. The Perry Township Joint Fire district has the responsibility to keep the area secure. These funds will help to assure this can be done for many years to come.
• Volkswagen Clean Air Act Settlement: This simply requires that first preference for settlement money due to Ohio currently estimated to be over $70M to be given to qualifying projects in only the counties currently required to implement the E-check Program.  Lake and surrounding counties are included in this region.

The House’s budget bill will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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