Miami County’s state senator and state representative, both of Tipp City, talked about what is and what isn’t in the state’s budget during the State of the State luncheon Sept. 18 in Troy.
State Sen. Bill Beagle, in his second term representing the fifth district, and 80th District State Rep. Steve Huffman, in his first term, made the presentations before a meeting of the county chambers of commerce.
Beagle said he chose to provide an update on the state’s two-year budget, “one of the most important things we do.”
Through the next two-year budget (which began July 1) the state will spend $72 billion to educate, medicate and incarcerate, Beagle said, noting a large amount of each state dollar goes to those purposes.
“That is significant because when we run into budget troubles, we have to go to those sources” for reductions, he said, adding there is particular adversity to cutting spending for children and the elderly.
This budget does, Beagle said, include a record amount of spending for education. “As we looked at this budget we tried to maintain some consistency. We did drive more money to low capacity schools and more districts on the (funding) formula with adjustments,” he said.
The legislature also heard people’s concerns about testing in schools, Beagle said. “We are changing providers and reducing the amount of time children are preparing for and taking tests.”
Among other topics touched on by Beagle:
- Taxes. He said tax rates are the lowest since 1982, putting more money in taxpayers’ pockets
- The state is boosting its rainy day fund to $2 billion to be prepared for any economic downturn
- The senate is working to reduce the infant mortality rate
- More money has been set aside for clean water concerns and at Lake Erie.
Huffman told those gathered that, “What I like about the budget is what was not in the budget - a raise in the CAT tax, no raise in the sales tax. There was raise in cigarette tax, but I can swallow a small raise in the cigarette tax to have a small reduction in personal income tax.”
Huffman said legislators would be working on a Healthy Ohio program to ask the federal government for Medicaid waivers so initiatives can be implemented that would reduce costs and help get people off Medcaid. ‘We are working to do something about it,” he said of the Medicaid expansion.
Coming this fall will be priority given to charter school reform in the house while water quality issues in Lake Erie and in St. Marys are separate issues, he said. One water concerns is related to farm runoff while the other results from cities’ wastewater treatment facilities and phosphorous, he said.
A new fracking tax effective this fall deserves watching, Huffman said, noting that the Miami Valley area is the top employer for fracking in Ohio with location here of surveyors and engineers and others who travel to the active fracking areas in the eastern part of the state.
Huffman, a physician, also has been appointed chairman of a health efficiency committee. Hr also gave a brief outline of the three state issues on the November ballot. The issues include redistricting and legalizing marijuana.