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Dear Constituents, December is always a busy month for all of us - spending time with friends and family, reflecting

on the year that is drawing to a close, and focusing on the things that really matter. We all lead busy lives this time of year. With respect to the busy schedules we all lead during this time of year, I am sending you an abbreviated version of the E-Newsletter. I have included a special legislative update below about two important issues which have recently been discussed: House Bill 318 (Education Protection Act of 2009): In October, the House passed Governor Strickland's proposal to fill an $851 million budget shortfall by temporarily freezing income tax rates at 2008 levels. Not passing this bill would have resulted in nearly $25 million in cuts to schools in the 92nd district, starting January 1st. In some districts, the cuts would have meant a loss of one-third of all teachers. After six weeks of waiting for the Ohio Senate to take action, a compromise bill was passed in the Senate last Thursday and was quickly approved by the House at a late night session. I appreciate very much the way so many people from the district worked together to support HB 318. It solves the immediate problem, but I am well aware of the work that remains to solve our longer-term challenges. Protecting State Parks: The final version of the budget compromise did NOT allow for oil and gass drilling in Salt Fort State Park, which had been proposed by the Senate. A different proposal, designed to protect Burr Oak State Park from impacts due to coal mining passed the House last week. The provision allows the ODNR to enter a deal to trade mineral rights with Buckingham Coal, which owns the rights on both sides of the park, creating a buffer around the lake to protect it.

The deal would also allow Buckingham to use an underground conveyance of coal from their eastern reserves. This will prevent the construction of a second mine entrance, and avoid the potential of 500,000 trucks of coal driving through and around the park on narrow, curvy roads. This is a bipartisan, common sense measure to protect our state parks and promote the economy in southeastern Ohio. Also, I encourage you to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when you file your taxes for this year. The credit provides low-income individuals and families with a refundable tax credit based on their income; families making up $48,279 are eligible for the credit, based on how various factors. You can find out more information from the Ohio Treasurer’s office here. I will provide additional tax information in our January E-Newsletter. As always, if you have questions, thoughts or concerns on matters before the Ohio legislature; or if you need assistance with a state government agency, please contact my office. I wish you and your family a joyous and peaceful holiday season.

To view the print edition of the December 2009 newsletter, please click here (works best with high-speed internet, may take a minute to load) Contact Information: Representative Debbie Phillips Riffe Center, 11th Floor 77 S High St, Columbus OH 43215 Phone: (614) 466-2158 Fax: (614) 719-6992