CIRCLEVILLE — State Senator Tim Schaffer sat down with The Herald earlier this week to discuss what he’s been working on in the Ohio Senate.
Schaffer, R-20, said he’s a big economics guy and that a three-percent tax cut in the recently-passed state biennial budget is important.
“I think before July 1, our income tax started at $22,000, $23,000 and now we’ve jumped that up to $25,000,” he said. Now, families making $22,000, $23,000, $24,000 won’t pay a single dime of income tax. That’s a big deal. Helping the families in need keep that capital in their family is really important.”
Schaffer said the tax cuts for other ranges is important because it will go far.
“The money we can keep in the families hands the better,” he said. “What little bit it might be will help them survive. In my time in the legislature, I’ve always pushed through tax cuts. I’ve chaired the weighs and means committee in both the house and the senate. I’ve always emphasized the benefit of cutting taxes. I think it was Ronald Reagan who said a dollar goes three times as far in the private sector than it does in the public sector.”
Schaffer said they also removed some taxes, including on payroll for personnel services.
“We were charging sales tax on the payroll,” he said. “That’s just not necessary and it inhibits hiring and getting companies the employees needed. We sunsetted that.”
Also, as part of the budget was $1 million for each county for brownfields remediation projects to clean up industrial cites.
“It’s big deal, it’s an economic and environmental game changer,” he said. “The other $262 million that’s leftover after that can be applied for to draw down more money to clean up sites. This is money that’s going to go right into the ground.”
Schaffer said he also worked to eliminate fraud in assistance programs.
“We know we have a lot of fraud in the SNAP and EBT program,” he said. “It’s over $1 billion. Ohio’s share of that is about $26.5 million and that’s money that’s not paying for apples and oatmeal for kids when it should be. We put in some measures to try and curb that fraud and give the state more tools to find it. It’s not all fraud, mistakes and errors. We have dead people who get benefits, out of state people getting benefits. There was a millionaire in Minnesota getting benefits. That’s denying help to families that need it.”
It’s just simple things like cross-checking databases,” he said. “We’re not checking to see if I have a job, or if I’m in prison, or if I have significant lottery winnings. When things are computerized, we can check their names.”
Schaffer said there is also $250 million in broadband expansion on top of $20 million in House Bill 2 that was passed earlier this year.
“This is part of a public private partnership to expand access,” he said.
Schaffer also highlighted a recently approved resolution urging Congress to give benefits to veterans who participated in the cleanup of atomic sites. It’s called the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Act.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, we sent troops to the Marshall Islands where we use to do atomic tests,” he said. “They told a lot of them they didn’t need protective gear and what we discovered was birth defects, fertility problems, cancers and more. What this resolution does is act Congress to get the VA to cover these benefits for these men and women all these years later. They went out there for us and they deserve it.”
Schaffer discussed his involvement in a bill that increases penalties for people who assault or harass the families of first responders. The bill is currently passed in the senate and is currently in the Criminal Justice Committee off the house.
“Senate Bill 16 increased the penalties for assaulting or intimidating police officers, firefighters and their families,” he said. “Families is a key addition because right now, it’s not penalized to assault their families beyond regular assault. We have cases of this here in Ohio and we can’t tolerate that. We wanted to tell people that if you harass or assault them specifically, you’re going to jail.”
Schaffer shared his reasoning behind his sponsorship of a bill creating Ohio Diabetes Awareness-Heart Connection Week that was signed last month by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
“It’s important because with diabetes and the connection with heart disease, it is a big deal, it’s the first or second cause for heart disease and stroke; it’s a big vascular issue,” he said. “Some advocates brought this to me to make sure we’re bringing attention to it. We already have National Diabetes Month in November, but this is focusing on the connection between heart disease and diabetes.”
Another piece of legislation Schaffer talked about is The Ohio Heritage Veterans Protection Act, which fines buyers who purchase cannons from local governments who are selling the items for cash.
“You have 10,000 pounds of steel and they’re selling these cannons for scrap to get the money,” he said. “These pieces of history are disappearing. This doesn’t effect private collections, but publicly owned ones. It creates a $10,000 fine for a scrapper or collector to buy that cannon from the local government. It doesn’t effect the local government. It’s a disincentive. If they are caught, they can restore it and give it back. If someone is caught and pays, the fine is given to the Ohio History Connection because they do an awful lot to protect our history.”