Coley wins second, final term in Ohio Senate

Incumbent Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., emerged victorious from his battle against Oxford Twp. Trustee John Kinne for the 4th Ohio Senate District.

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For Coley, a 12-year Statehouse veteran, the victory heralds his second and final four-year term in the Ohio Senate after previously winning four terms in the Ohio House.

The 4th Ohio Senate District incorporates most of Butler County, excluding a large portion of Middletown that includes AK Steel and the surrounding properties. That area is part of the state’s 7th Senate District.

Coley, who said he was “so happy” to win 67.9 percent of the vote, said one of his plans for his final term is helping Ohio move to a flat income tax, which exists in some local cities.

He said he would like to see a 3½ or a 3¾ percent flat state income tax, which would be revenue neutral and “streamline” more than enough income for the state, with more money going back to the local governments.

“I think that would be something that we could do that would really improve Ohio’s economy and help us attract business and jobs,” Coley said.

While there exists “vested interests” in each line of tax code, a greatly reduced flat state income tax drastically simplifies matters and makes things more fair, he said.

“It’s what people are used to,” Coley said. “All the Ohioans who pay a municipal income tax … that’s a flat tax. When you look at that conceptually people are used to it because that’s what they pay in their municipal income tax.”

Another goal of Coley’s is Senate Bill 235, a development bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City. The bill provides that those who purchase commercial and industrial properties wouldn’t face increased valuations on their property until they complete work on the site by obtaining an occupancy permit or selling the site to a new user.

“That way you encourage developers to put their money into the property and if it takes six months or a year to get a tenant or to sell the building then they’ll pay tax at that point when they get a tenant,” he said. “Right now, so many places around the county and around the state, in an industrial park, they’ll have a sign that says ‘Coming Soon’ with a picture of a factory. Well, we want them to build the factory and that way when somebody comes in from out of state and says ‘Hey, I need to build a factory. I want to be open in four months,’ the developer says ‘No problem. We can pour concrete all winter long inside a building and we’ll have you up and running in four months.’”

Realistically speaking, a developer isn’t getting any benefit from a site until that point anyhow, he said.

“Just wait until he finishes, then raise his taxes,” Coley said. “You’re not letting him benefit from it.”

Coley said he plans to continue working on “improving things incrementally” via suggestions from his constituents.

“We get great ideas from all of our citizens … who just come to us and say ‘If you just did this or that, you’d make it a little bit better,’ and that’s what we try to do,” he said.