DARKE COUNTY - State Rep. Richard Adams said he was pleased with Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address Tuesday, which addressed job growth, tax reform, education and Medicaid expansion, among other issues.
Adams, a member of the finance and appropriations and transportation committees, noted that through reorganization under the Republican governor’s administration, the state has already cut 45 state employees as part of a larger initiative for greater efficiency. Agencies have been consolidated, such as Medicaid, which used to be handled by seven different offices but is now handled by one, with its director reporting directly to Kasich.
“He’s making government smaller and more responsible,” Adams said.
The big push at the state level, Adams said, lies in economic development and job creation. Ohio has climbed to fourth in the nation for job creation under Kasich — and first in the Midwest. But ensuring Ohio remains a leader in economic growth is a priority.
“The culture for being a small business is getting better,” Adams said.
Under Kasich’s two-year budget plan, small-business owners would be granted a 50 percent income tax reduction on their first $750,000 of profit.
“That’s really significant and should be a big help for those trying to keep a small business afloat. That is really excellent,” Adams said.
When he won re-election last November, Adams said spurring job growth in the private sector would bolster the economy statewide, which is a focus of Kasich as well.
During last week’s address, Kasich discussed expanding Medicaid for moral reasons, stating that his Christian faith guided his decision-making.
The problem, Adams said, lies in potential funding issues down the road.
“Frankly, that’s given me the most difficulty in coming to a conclusion,” he said.
Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the federal government would fully fund health care for disadvantaged Ohioans. Kasich stated that, as a result, $13 billion would return to Ohio during the next seven years.
But Adams said that while providing medical care for all is commendable, he is concerned with how the federal government will fund the program and who will fund it after that period of time.
“Where will they get that money?” Adams said. “My confidence is just not the highest in the federal government that it once was in terms of fiscal responsibility.”
House Bill 5
As he has repeated in the past, Adams will support House Bill 5, the successor of HB 601, only if it is truly budget-neutral. He has been meeting with city officials to assuage any concerns about the bill, which Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington said would cause the city of Troy to lose $750,000 to $1.2 million in tax revenue per year.
Tax uniformity entails simplifying and standardizing municipal and village tax collection. Titterington has said he would support only tax uniformity, not tax reform, which relates to issues such as who gets exemptions and what comprises taxable income.
Adams said he would not support legislation that would impact tax income for local communities.
Adams questioned Kasich’s formula for school funding, as his promise to provide more funding for poorer districts did not come to fruition in Miami County, as several school districts were flat-funded. Only Troy City Schools and Piqua City Schools were projected to see increases — about 17 percent — while overall in Ohio, 60 percent of the 612 school districts would be flat-funded.
“The state department (of education) is not in the loop to the same degree that they once were,” Adams said.
The funding plan goes into effect July 1.