ST. MARYS — A Sidney legislator says balancing the state’s biennial budget without raising taxes was among his highlights of 2011.
“As I told our caucus, that’s what Republicans are supposed to do — balance budgets without raising taxes,” State Rep. John Adams told The Evening Leader. “Balancing the budget was pretty memorable.”
Facing declining revenue, Adams said it was necessary to make cuts, many of which were unpopular, in order to balance the state’s biennial budget. With that accomplished, Adams said he believes the state is better off for the future.
“We’ve lost population, we’ve lost two Congressional seats and with that a lot of jobs,” Adams said. “That means revenue. So therefore you have to shrink the size of state and local government to more align with the revenue streams that are out there.”
Included in the budget was a provision to eliminate the estate tax — something Adams said he worked hard to get added to the bill.
“To be honest, it couldn’t have happened without others playing a role, too,” Adams said. “It was quite an accomplishment for a tax that has been around for over 116 years.”
A second issue Adams addressed last year was the passage of House Bill 133, which allowed for drilling on state-owned property. Adams said the measure could add additional revenue into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ coffers for a back-log of capital improvement projects.
“It was designed for whatever dollars are raised by auctioning off parcels for drilling rights, those dollars would go to much needed relief of half a billion dollar back-log of capital improvement projects in our state parks,” Adams said. “One amendment we had to get in was that 25 percent of the dollars brought in had to stay from whatever park or state land it was from. The remaining 75 percent can be used for any park for capital improvements.”
Turning his attention to this year, Adams said his GOP colleagues have a caucus meeting on Monday to layout their goals and strategy for 2012. With it being an election year, Adams said it should be a busy year.
“There are still concerns with the bureau of workers compensation and what it costs businesses in Ohio,” Adams said. “There are changes that need to be looked at and made to ease the expense side of businesses in Ohio.”
Adams also stressed the importance of addressing the state’s five budget plans to make sure the systems remain solvent.
“At some point, I don’t know when it will happen, but the five pension plans of the state have to be addressed at some point,” Adams said. “I believe three out of the five simply do not meet their 30-year funding obligations. They are only meeting their obligations to the tune of 73 percent. The question is how do you solve the problem of meeting the requirement of making sure they are meeting their 30-year obligation of solvency.”
With 2012 comes new state House and Senate districts for Ohio. During the apportionment process, Auglaize County was carved into two new House and Senate districts and if re-elected, Adams would no longer represent any portion of Auglaize County.
“The voters in Auglaize County have always been good to me,” Adams said. “If I’m elected, I’d be in the 85th district, but I will continue to represent Auglaize County through 2012.”
Under the new districts, Auglaize County now falls in the 82nd and 84th House Districts. The cities of St. Marys and Wapakoneta as well as the village of Buckland and the townships of Moulton, Noble, Salem and parts of St. Marys are in the 82nd House District, which also includes Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert counties. The rest of Auglaize County, including the villages of New Bremen, New Knoxville, Minster, Waynesfield and Cridersville and portions of St. Marys Township, fall in the 84th House District, which also includes Mercer County and parts of Darke and Shelby counties. The portions of Auglaize County that fall within the 82nd House District are part of the 1st Senate District and those in the 84th House District are part of the 12th Senate District. Auglaize County remains in the 4th U.S. Congressional District.
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