Making sure that no more money is taken out of your wallet in more taxes has certainly been one of the highlights of the state budget that was recently passed by the House. With an $8 billion structural imbalance that we've had to fill, being able to right-size state government without raising YOUR taxes is great news. Many long hours were spent on our budget proposal, and given the difficult financial conditions Ohio is going through, I believe that the current budget bill is a significant accomplishment.

The House budget proposes an appropriate state spending in the most responsible way Ohio has seen in years. I feel that it reflects my personal commitment to the constituents of House District 96 to building a strong economic foundation for the state to revitalize itself upon. It is no secret that the last few years have been financially trying for every citizen of Ohio. Families have been forced to sacrifice more and more in the wake of rampant unemployment to give their children the best opportunities for a successful future.

Throughout this General Assembly, we have dedicated ourselves to fighting unemployment. We have also fought to ensure that the budget was one more piece of legislation that would help to get Ohioans back to work. The loss of jobs has sapped Ohio's economy, leaving it in the doldrums. I have seen too many hard-working people in our district out of a job because their employers cannot afford to keep them on. This throws a wrench into the gears of Ohio's economy. However, with the House budget, I am confident that we will be able to create an environment in which businesses can again grow and thrive, boosting economic development and augmenting the job market.

To combat unemployment, our budget proposal aims to make Ohio once again "open for business." Creating fertile soil for business growth attracts businesses from other states as well as compels Ohio's young entrepreneurs to remain in the state, supplementing our economic resources and expanding our job market.

One way the House budget goes about doing this is by offering grants of in-state tuition Ohio high school graduates who have left the state to use on our colleges and universities if they return. If they come back within a 10-year window of graduating, they can take advantage of this tool to help afford their higher education. Additionally, this will help attract Ohio's brightest young minds back to the state, bringing their ideas and creativity with them. I believe that many of these young people are the key to sustainable economic development. With their innovation, they can craft ideas to propagate economic sustainability and boost business for our state.

Retention of Ohioans is very important. Unfortunately, many senior citizens, business owners and farmers leave Ohio after retiring to preserve their assets from taxation upon their death. If you are like me, you have worked your whole life and put savings away not only so you could enjoy a comfortable retirement, but also so your children and grandchildren could benefit from the fruits of your labor. This tax is simply unfair. The House budget gets rid of it, allowing Ohioans' hard-earned money and property to be handed down in a fair manner without another tax for what has already been taxed during life. With House members wanting to give every opportunity to prepare for this change, especially to our local governments, we decided that it would be best to eliminate the tax starting in 2013. Not only will we have time to adapt, but we will continue toward the goal of keeping many Ohioans in the state, contributing greatly to our economic development and the growth of our job market.

Although these are just a few aspects of a very complex bill, I want you to know that our budget bill reflects the commitment that we have made to constituents like you. Finding a way to close a budget gap of $8 billion without raising taxes was not easy by any means, but with hard work, we found a way to do it while spending less than the previous General Assembly's budget. I trust that after the Senate and House craft the final bill, we will be well on our way to having a stable foundation on which to thrive.

Rep. Landis may be reached by calling (614) 466- 8035, e-mailing District96@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Al Landis, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215.