An Ohio Budget Perspective

Ohio’s new budget preserves $7 billion in tax breaks and keeps in place tax cuts exceeding $10,000 a year for the wealthiest 1% of Ohioans. It also cuts over $2 billion from schools and over $1 billion from local government, and slashes state spending for libraries, mental health and children’s services, while proposing selling the state liquor profits, five state prisons, expanding charter schools and vouchers, and proposing a semi-privatized state for higher education institutions called ‘charter’ universities. Weve heard it called a “slash and sell budget” and a “pass the buck budget” and both seem right, as it will certainly result in more unequal services across communities and higher local taxes. Here are (just some of) Policy Matters Ohio’s initial analyses:

Local Government Fund – The state seizes more than $440 million in local government funds, and more than $560 million in replacement funds for local government tax sources eliminated or reduced through state action. This will result in cuts to basic services delivered at the local level from policing, to fire protection, to snowplowing, to recreation. Expect longer waits, fewer hours, weaker services and higher local taxes as a result.

Education – The two-year budget slashes more than $2.3 billion from education compared to the 2010-11 budget while putting potentially hundreds of millions more into charters and vouchers. The proposal would drop state funding for schools below 2003 levels by 2013 and push more of the funding burden to local taxpayers.

$7 Billion in Breaks – While shredding schools and local governments in the above ways and more, the budget does not examine even one of the 128 tax breaks that cost the state more than $7 billion, preference some businesses over others, and continue crazy credits like the one to hire a lobbyist without paying a sales tax or to pay a pittance in tax when purchasing a timeshare for a private jet.

And Break some More – Amid disingenuous cries that “we’re broke”, is a continued push to add new breaks for the very wealthiest. Two new proposals would give special favors to those who need them least. The capital gains cut would save middle-income taxpayers $2 a year on average while the top 1% would pay more than $6,500 less. The estate tax grab would hurt local government and preference the wealthiest heirs more than 90% of Ohioans would never owe the estate tax after they die.

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