OTTAWA — State Rep. Jim Hoops addressed topics of the state budget, taxes, education and healthcare during an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday at Henry’s Restaurant.
Hoops said a budget was passed, House Bill 66, and said 75 percent of the budget deals with education, Medicaid, healthcare and incarceration issues.
He said the state did a lot of changes with the tax issue that changed over the course of the budget.
“I learned the budget is a process where it goes through the House, Senate, conference committee and finally signed by the governor,” Hoops said. He said the budget is over 20,000 lines and said one of the things that makes Ohio noncompetitive is its income tax.
The income tax was lowered across the board, a 4 percent decrease in the income tax rates, and legislators made sure the business tax was put back in to help create jobs. The tax however was taken out for lobbyists and attorneys who will not receive the tax break for their businesses. There was over $630 million in tax cuts in the budget.
Education was another large area of the budget that was worked on. He said it used to be to graduates had requirements of four credit hours of math, science and social studies and foreign language.
“In the budget we asked the federal government for a waiver to eliminate some of the year-end tests students have to take. It’s kind of like we have lost track of what we are supposed to be doing in education,” Hoops said.
He spoke about mental issues in schools and the importance of using funding to help those students.
He addressed the topic of health and said he previously chaired the Health and Human Services subcommittee dealing with Medicaid.
“Medicaid is a big area of the budget and right now we are not spending as much as what we had budgeted in the last budget,” Hoops said. He said people are living longer and there are more things that can be done to help them keep a way of life, one of those things he identified as prescription drugs.
The state looked in its budget to how it could control the prescription drug issue and makes sure that the right thing is done with the drugs, according to Hoops.
Another area in the budget that was addressed was workforce and college debt. He said we need to make sure that young people know there are opportunities for two-year certificates and said community colleges are a good place for students to find themselves.
Manufacturers are trying to find employees and they need to be skilled. He said there is a need for truck drivers who make over $60,000 a year and ways are needed to help people get their CDL license. A transportation budget was completed by the state that he said was a safety and economic development issue making sure roads and bridges are safe for people to travel on.
The heartbeat bill was passed to make sure mothers and babies are taken care of and funds were put into crisis pregnancy centers.
“I believe the future of our country is how we take care of our children,” Hoops said.
Upcoming events in Ottawa are Small Business Saturday Nov. 30 and Welcome Santa Parade Dec. 1.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.