October 27, 2010 10:08 PM
State Rep. Matt Huffman has become one of Ohio’s more respected legislators. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Huffman is doing the same thing as a state lawmaker that he did while serving on Lima City Council. He listens to his constituent’s concerns and makes himself accessible; he is approachable to fellow legislators on either side of the aisle; he’s willing to explain himself; and he is open to working across political differences. Combine his demeanor, his work ethic and his fiscal conservatism with his ascension within the Republican Party — which could control both houses of the Ohio General Assembly — and Huffman is well-suited to represent the interests of Allen County. We think he is the hands down choice for voters in the 4th District of the Ohio House.
Huffman, 50, a Republican, is one of the few politicians from either major party to have put any serious thought into addressing the looming state budget hole. The Lima attorney cannot come up with a list of $8 billion in cuts, true, but he has at least started down that road. Neither party’s gubernatorial candidate offered specific cuts, but more importantly to this race, neither did Connie Miller, a Democrat.
Huffman is pitching a number of approaches to addressing a big dollar problem. Reducing the number of state agencies would save Ohio $1.2 billion, he says. Eliminating the random auto insurance verification program would save $800,000. He has others.
He also is vehemently against new taxes. It isn’t some tea party-come lately stance either. Huffman took a leading role — the only one in city government to do so — against a large percentage hike in Lima’s income tax. Huffman said then, and he’s said during this campaign, that the income tax punishes work. He’s right.
Huffman also was an early supporter of the move to eliminate Ohio’s income tax altogether, joining a number of states that have found some success doing so. That effort has gone nowhere, but with Huffman continuing in a House leadership role it likely would gain steam next year.
Miller, 60, has chastised Huffman as being in the pocket of wealthy business owners. She has based that claim on the campaign contributions he receives. In doing so, however, she fails to acknowledge that he has such a huge war chest because people support his ideas and the job he has been doing.
Miller, has been more wishy-washy. The Lima insurance agent doesn’t outright support any new taxes, she said, but she wants the tax system to be more fair. We’ve heard that talk before — and we continue to think of it as laying the groundwork for tax increases.
Huffman also has railed against regulations. Republicans will keep control of the Ohio Senate, but control of the House is still in question. Regardless of who wins the gubernatorial race, we assume — once the budget is worked out, or even as part of it — a rejuvenated Republican Party would remember its roots and force a discussion and action on regulations.
Huffman also has been on the right side of school choice. He advocates greater choice for parents, but he has also been a proponent of public schools. One needs only look at the work he did behind the scenes to locate Lima Senior High School where it is. Lima government positions are nonpartisan, but we all knew Huffman is a Republican and Lima Mayor Dave Berger is a Democrat. Huffman had no problem during his tenure on City Council working with those with basic philosophical differences.He deserves a third term representing the 4th District in the Ohio House.