Rep. Smith supports state budget bill

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) is in full agreement with Gov. John Kasich’s signing of Amended Sub. House Bill 64.

The bill is the state’s operating budget, which contains several items he said are beneficial to the people and communities of southeast Ohio.

Smith, who chaired the Ohio House Finance Committee, was active in securing a number of projects many people deem important to the region, including:

  • Prohibiting the multi-state consortium testing from being administered next year;
  • Allocating funds to the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to combat food deserts;
  • Expanding drug courts to area counties to combat the drug epidemic;
  • Increasing funding to Appalachian Local Development Districts used to spur economic development;
  • Directing $75,000 per year to the Ohio University Leadership Project;
  • Increasing funding for the Appalachian New Economy Partnership to $1.5 million;
  • Directing key resources to improve maternal and child health outcomes in southern Ohio.

“This budget prioritizes job creation through a nearly $1.9 billion tax cut, while also adding essential resources to southeastern Ohio,” Smith said. “Area counties will have more tools to fight the drug scourge with expanded drug courts and increased addiction treatment services. Am. Sub. HB 64 moves Ohio forward with smart investments that will build a stronger Ohio.”

The budget bill also contains an across-the-board 6.3 percent income tax cut totaling nearly $1.9 billion over the next two years. The proposal lowers the top rate to below 5 percent—the lowest it’s been since 1982. Furthering that trend, and prioritizing small businesses, the bill institutes a 75 percent income tax deduction on the first $250,000 of income in FY 2016 and a 100-percent deduction in FY 2017, and levies a flat 3 percent rate above that.

Am. Sub. H.B. 64 works to help individuals move up and off government assistance in order to have a better quality of life by implementing cost transparency measures in Medicaid, Smith said. He added that it requires the Department of Medicaid to seek waivers to allow for health savings accounts.

“With a focus on curtailing the drug epidemic, the bill also earmarks $500,000 to improve access for county health departments and first responders to naloxone, an anti-opiate drug that reverses the effects of an overdose,” Smith said.