Republican state Rep. Cheryl Grossman has placed reduction of the estate tax at the top of her priority list.

Republican state Rep. Cheryl Grossman has placed reduction of the estate tax at the top of her priority list.

The Ohio estate tax is a graduated tax levied on transfers of a resident's estate after death. Grossman said Ohio's estate tax is among the highest in the nation and most states don't have the tax.

"It's not fair to people to be punished to die in Ohio," said Grossman, a former Grove City mayor. "It's double taxation as far as I'm concerned."

She said Larry Wolpert, who served as Republican in the 23rd District before Grossman, started the push to reduce the estate tax. She said she wants to continue the effort.

Grossman introduced House Bill 326, the bill to reduce the estate tax rate by 20 percent, in October.

She introduced a similar bill, House Bill 61, in March 2009, just two months after she took office.

Both bills are still being discussed by the General Assembly's ways and means committee.

The lack of progress is not surprising to Grossman.

She said only one Republican-introduced bill has passed since she's been in office.

"I believe that the state's in a difficult situation," Grossman said. "Politics need to be put aside and we need to do what's right for the people of the state of Ohio."

Grossman said she also is working to pass a bill that would give income tax relief to recently graduated college students.

House Bill 144 would authorize a tax credit of six years for students who graduate with a bachelor's degree. It also would authorize a deferral of the tax credit while a student pursues a graduate degree.

Grossman said Ohio has "some of the most outstanding universities in the nation" and many graduates leave Ohio after they graduate to find work in other states.

"It's unfortunate. We educate these very bright people and then we lose them," she said.

The amount of income tax money lost when graduates leave the state is about the same that would be lost through a tax credit, she said. But with a tax credit, more Ohio students would be encouraged to stay, she added.

The main goal is creating "jobs, jobs, jobs" because the "state is in a huge mess," Grossman said.

She noted the state's lawmakers have a $7- to $9-billion budget hole to fill by the next biennium budget, ending in the summer of 2011.

"We need to make Ohio a competitive and attractive state to do business in," Grossman said.

She said she has suggested that lawmakers request a performance audit of state government. The last performance audit was done 52 years ago, Grossman said.

Locally, Grossman said she is happy that the Ohio Department of Transportation approved a nearly $35-million project to revamp the interchange at Interstate 71 and state Route 665.

Grossman testified on behalf of the project before ODOT in the 1990s.

She also said she opposes an annexation request by Jones Fuel Co. to start a gravel mining operation on Jackson Pike.

Jones Fuel wants to annex its nearly 90-acre properties from Jackson Township to Columbus. Nearby commercial businesses have said gravel mining could create unwanted pollution and they would leave Jackson Township if the mining begins, creating a loss of about 450 jobs.

Grossman said that's not worth the possible creation of about 10 jobs by Jones Fuel.

"I'm meeting with Columbus City Council members expressing my strong objection to the annexation," she said.

ebrooks@thisweekenews.com