When citizens pay taxes, they entrust their money to the government to be used for public purposes. That money should be used for providing public services and for conducting state business.
Recently, the legislature passed and the governor signed legislation that increases the penalty for state workers who may use public funds for something other than conducting state business.
For example, a person who works for a government agency earns a paycheck from taxes that are collected from citizens. That is not to say that government employees do not work hard or that their service is not important, but one must always keep in mind where the money is coming from. So if that government worker, on state (taxpayer-funded) time, uses his time to work for a political campaign, party or candidate, he is not doing what Ohioans pay him to do.
While the practice of using public funds for political purposes was already against the law, House Bill 326 increases the penalty to a first degree misdemeanor. By upping the penalty, hopefully everyone will realize the importance of protecting tax dollars and will not use them to push their own political agendas.
All individuals should be free to support candidates and work for campaigns. The US Constitution grants that right in the First Amendment. HB 326 does not prohibit anyone from engaging in these activities, but rather strengthens the line between politics and state business.
Making government run more fairly and efficiently has been a commitment of the 129th General Assembly from the beginning. House Bill 326 is just another step to safeguard taxpayer dollars to ensure that public resources are being used for the public good.
Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) is the state representative serving the 66th District.