The 130th Ohio General Assembly begins the second half of its term with a review of this past year’s legislative action, and a plan for the coming year.
Our focus has been and will continue to be job retention and job growth, so that our families, and future families, can live healthy lives and prosper here in Ohio.
The State Budget, passed in July, created $2.7 billion in tax cuts and the largest year-to-year tax cut in the nation, benefiting every Ohio taxpayer.
The State’s Rainy Day Fund went from an historic low of 87 cents to over $1.48 billion, which is the largest amount in this Fund in our State’s history.
The new State Budget included a significant increase ($1.6 billion) in funding for state schools. No schools received less than what they did the previous year, and most received an increase.
The Budget also allocated $3 billion in new money for roads and bridges, and did so without a tax increase.
Four years ago, Ohio was 47th in job creation. Today, according to federal government statistics, we are ninth in job creation. In 2011, Ohio’s unemployment neared 11 percent. Today, we are creating jobs, and our unemployment figures, which fluctuate each month, are still well under 8 percent.
Legislative efforts to increase job opportunities include the following:
House Bill 37 reduced layoff periods for Ohio’s employees; House Bill 98 eases occupational licensing requirements for veterans; and House Bill 135, a Bill created and sponsored by myself, provides tax credits for developers and communities who will revitalize vacant buildings, which will provide new jobs in construction and new occupancy.
Legislative initiatives for 2014 are focused on the health and education of our families, as well as continued efforts at tax reform and job growth for Ohioans.
Governor Kasich’s commitment to provide healthcare for those who need it most has been the impetus for several pieces of legislation regarding Medicaid and healthcare reform that will be vetted in the Committee process this year. They include:
• SB 206, sponsored by Senator Burke, which provides for cost containment, increased accountability, and improved health outcomes for Medicaid recipients;
• HB 208 and SB 166, also sponsored in part by Senator Burke, which provides for Medicaid reform through workforce development;
• HB 317, which addresses several issues including Medicaid fraud reform and increased penalties for drug offenses; and
• HB 332, which establishes standards for opioid treatment at pain clinics.
Newly-created Subcommittees on Opiate Addiction Treatment and Reform and Prescription Drug Addiction will continue to hear testimony and review proposed legislation on these topics.
Quality, affordable education of our children, and of our adults desiring job-specific training, is key to Ohio’s future. House Committees focused on understanding the connection between education and job requirements are hearing legislative proposals regarding workforce development and changes to school curriculum. Am. Sub. House Bill 59 encourages degree completion at our state’s two-year, four-year, and technical schools, and makes every effort to earning a degree more affordable.
It is my privilege to continue to serve you in the Ohio House, as we strive, as an Assembly, to make a better life for each and every Ohioan through our legislative efforts. My door is always open to you, and I welcome your ideas and opinions on the issues critical to the vitality of our great State.