I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to serve our region as a State Representative, and can tell you that the past several months have been busy and productive ones at the Statehouse. I've been working hard on the issues that are important to all of us—balancing Ohio's budget, lowering taxes and creating an economic environment where businesses can grow and flourish.
Since assuming office in January 2011, I have focused on making Ohio a better place to do business. For Ohio to be prosperous, we have to compete. If being in Ohio gives companies a competitive edge, more businesses will expand or relocate here. Given the right environment, small businesses especially will thrive and grow.
With additional and growing businesses, come more jobs. More businesses and jobs mean rising property values, lower taxes, and higher wages. A better economy also means additional resources to fight crime, invest in the classroom and care for our seniors and those with special needs.
I am also investigating conversion of state and local vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). With available CNG filing stations, government can save substantial fuel expenses. CNG sells for nearly half the cost of gasoline, so conversion would likely pay for itself in a few years. Additionally, converted vehicles can still run on regular gasoline when travelling in states without available filing stations. After conversion, Ohio would be running on a much less expensive fuel and have that much more of a competitive edge in transportation costs over states that still use expensive gasoline. Further, by using domestically produced natural gas, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil while creating additional Ohio jobs in the rapidly-growing natural gas industry.
Smarter, Efficient Government
I believe the first step in creating an atmosphere for growth is smaller and more efficient government. To that end, we have passed the Common Sense Initiative to reduce burdensome regulations. Additionally, we have ordered the Auditor to conduct performance audits on state agencies to not just make sure the books are right, but to hold government accountable to operate efficiently and eliminate unnecessary and obsolete programs where it makes sense.
Lower Taxes/Elimination of the Death Tax
Smaller and more efficient government means lower taxes. Even when faced with an over $8 billion budget deficit, we not only passed a budget that did not raise taxes, we passed one that lowered them. In fact, I consider my biggest success thus far to be having lead the effort that repealed Ohio's death tax, an unfair, double tax on money already taxed during a person's lifetime that is particularly crippling to small businesses.
Smaller government is important, but we cannot simply cut our way to prosperity. We need fresh ideas and innovative solutions that will give us an edge over other states. Accordingly, below are just a few of the ideas on which I am working to help Ohio become the greatest state in the Republic.
Finally, I am working on legislation that would require state agencies and local governments to open up their books and publish exactly how your money is being spent, specifically illustrating how spending compares to similar jurisdictions. After discussing this issue with constituents at a town hall in Kettering and working with constituents on specifics, I believe this legislation will provide transparency to government spending so that you can hold elected officials accountable.
I will soon introduce a bill to have prisoners manufacture and sell something that is not currently made in the United States (so no American jobs are threatened) to literally help repay their debt to society. The sale of the goods will: (1) help pay for the approximate $3.1 billion the state spends on prisons every two years and millions spent by local governments; (2) help prisoners develop work habits and skills which will lessen the chance they will reoffend when released; (3) reduce our trade deficit by reclaiming products for America that have been completely outsourced; and (4) create jobs for the additional trainers, foreman and management that will be needed for the program. This program will be voluntary for the prisoners and the money made by the program will never be more than 95% of the cost of incarceration, so that it is never profitable to incarcerate someone.