Category Archives: election 2009

Election Won’t Solve Budget Problems

By Marc Kilmer

Last Tuesday’s election saw a few local tax hikes approved, others fail, and a majority of voters approve statewide gambling. While these ballot questions were an attempt by local and state policymakers to help fund government, they offer no solutions to the long-term problems faced by Ohio’s governments. Only through fundamental reform can local and state politicians tame government growth that is outpacing the ability of taxpayers to fund it.

This year politicians have faced dramatic drops in tax revenue. Ohio’s economy is one of the worst in the nation and this means fewer people and businesses paying taxes. The state government has tried to trim spending and has used budget gimmicks to cover its deficit. Governor Ted Strickland also proposed new ways to raise revenue, such as raising taxes and introducing gambling.

Local governments, too, don’t have enough revenue to spend on their desired projects and services. So they have also proposed new taxes or bond issues, many of which were up for voter approval on Tuesday.

These attempts to raise revenue are misguided. The problem isn’t that Ohioans are undertaxed. In fact, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation rates Ohio’s tax burden as one of the heaviest in the nation. And to a level seen in almost no other state, Ohioans face taxes from a number of different government entities, from the state government down to local school and library districts. No, Ohioans don’t need taxed more.

Instead, Ohio’s governmental entities need to find different ways to use the revenue they receive. For instance, instead of accepting that Medicaid will continue to consume tax dollars at an unpredictable level, policymakers should look to reform the program to bring spending down. Education spending has consistently expanded over the past few decades and yet students don’t seem to be any better educated. Instead of throwing more money at failing schools, policymakers should look at different ways of educating students.

Innovative policymaking is one piece of the puzzle. The other is to rein in the growing bureaucracy at both the state and local levels. The number of government employees continues to increase and so do their pay and benefits. Reducing government employment and bringing bureaucrats’ salaries and benefits more into line with the private sector is a necessity if government spending is ever to be controlled.

If these steps aren’t taken, we will continue to see destructive tax-and-spend patterns repeat themselves. During recessions tax revenue declines so politicians raise taxes. Good economic times follow the recessions and increased tax revenue leads to an explosion in spending. Then another recession hits and this new spending can’t be sustained, leading to even more tax increases. This is a poor way to run a government.

This current recession has hit Ohioans harder than most other Americans. The state faces higher-than-average unemployment and foreclosures. High taxes burden citizens and, as a result of Tuesday’s elections, some in the state are facing even higher tax bills. Instead of following the failed policies of the past, politicians should try to salvage something good from this recession and use it as an opportunity to restructure state and local finances so during the next economic downturn Ohio will be in a better position than that in which it finds itself now.

Marc Kilmer is a policy analyst with the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a research and educational institute located in Columbus, Ohio.

Issue 3 : Should Out-of-State Bookies be Allowed to Operate Casinos in Ohio?

By Citizens For Community Values

Two out-of-state companies are attempting to write their business plan into Ohio’s constitution by creating a monopoly that would allow them to build four casinos in our state.

Penn National Gaming, which currently operates 32 gambling facilities in the U.S. and Canada, has partnered with Dan Gilbert, a billionaire from Michigan, who owns Quicken Loans and the Cleveland Cavaliers, to place ISSUE 3 before the voters on November 3, 2009.

During a recent ISSUE 3 debate at the Cleveland City Club Gilbert was asked a question about his 1981 arrest for illegal bookmaking. (Read the Columbus Dispatch article here.) (Listen to the debate on Podcast here.)

Unidentified Questioner: “I understand you were arrested in the past for illegal bookmaking. So if issue 3 passes can you tell me what crimes do you believe should preclude individuals from getting a gaming license, and specifically is bookmaking one of those crimes?”

Dan Gilbert’s Reply: “Yeah so when I was 18 years old in Michigan State when I was a freshman in the dorm room, we had those you know those little card NFL cards that you play. I don’t know, Bernie might have been playing, I don’t know, and somebody walked into some policeman on the corner, came in and they swept the dorms and they took out four, five, or seven I can’t remember the number, and then they dropped the case a few months later and no money was ever exchanged and that’s what happened to me at Michigan State. But so as far as what crimes, I don’t know, probably murder, rape, extortion of funds, larceny, things like that.”

FACT CHECK…Line by Line

Gilbert said: “Yeah so when I was 18 years old in Michigan State when I was a freshman in the dorm room, we had those you know those little card NFL cards that you play.”

USA Today describes it this way: “Gilbert was arrested with three other students in 1981 on charges of operating a bookmaking ring at Michigan State that handled $114,000 in bets on football and basketball games.’’

Gilbert said: “…somebody walked into some policeman on the corner came in and they swept the dorms…” describes it this way: “One kid who couldn’t cover his debts panicked and called his father, who alerted the authorities. A wired undercover cop, posing as the kid’s dad, busted the ring. ‘It was a pretty sophisticated operation,’ says Jeffrey Patzer, who prosecuted the case, ‘way above average for what I knew of so-called organized crime.’ ”

Gilbert said: “…then they dropped the case a few months later…”

USA Today describes it this way: “Gilbert was accused of conspiring to violate state gambling laws. He was fined, given three years’ probation and ordered to do 100 hours of community service, the paper said. The felony was dropped after he completed the sentences.”

Anyone can understand the embarrassment of stupid youthful indiscretions, particularly when it has to do with violations of the law. If these are all of the facts, it sounds like Gilbert got off pretty easy.

But with today’s 24-hour newscycles and instant access to so much of the past with a click of the mouse, Gilbert should know that lying about something that is so easily discoverable and getting caught again may well say more about who he is today than who he was when a freshman in college.

Alan King runs for Xenia Twp Trustee, Partly On 5 Acre Lots

By Alan King

As many of you may already know, I’ve decided to take on another part time job around Xenia that I think needs doing. I am running for Xenia Township Trustee in this November’s election. I think that there are some things that need fixing and I think that I have some good thoughts about how to go about making them better. As part of my campaign, I would like to share a few of these thoughts with you. This will be the first of about 6 emails along these lines. The Township Trustee job is non-partisan and I am running with the hopes of serving all of the residents of Xenia Township.

Here’s what I think about 5 acre lots:

I love to live in the country. My home is on a little over 2 acres in Xenia Township. When I first moved here in 1973, there was a field next door that was so big that only one house was within a half mile of me on that side. There were other homes nearby, but if I wanted to go outside and see farmland, there it was. Corn or beans or cattle always alternated outside my windows. Then they built the 35 bypass and now I live next to a busy highway with the sound of semis so nearly constant that I only notice the silence when it arrives in the middle of the night.

Irreplaceable farmland is vanishing slowly but inexorably from much of Xenia Township as our rural population grows. And I blame 5 acre lots for part of that loss. Sometime in the past it was decided that the best way to prevent farmers from selling off their land for houses would be to restrict Township lots to 5 acres or more. The reasoning was that the average new home buyer couldn’t pay for 5 acres, so he would just stay in town. This may have worked at one time, but as housing prices climbed into the 6 digits, the cost of 5 acres has become a smaller part of the investment. People still want to move to the country, so farmers are selling off long skinny lots stretching way back into their most fertile fields. A typical 5 acre lot in Xenia Township is 250 feet wide and almost two tenths of a mile deep.

Five acres is too much land to take care of, but not enough to do much with. Newcomers to the country often think that they will build a barn and keep a horse or two out back. This is a charming fantasy, but it soon becomes evident that 5 acres is enough to raise a horse, but not enough to go for a ride. After a few years of killing themselves mowing it all, many of these homeowners never venture into their “back three” and it devolves into useless scrub brush. And that is a terrific waste of good farmland! Wouldn’t it be better to allow smaller lots and leave more of the good land in crops?

If it is inevitable that we are going to have more people moving to the country, we need flexible zoning in Xenia Township based on intelligent land use, not one-size-fits-all lot sizes. Many of the older homes in the township, like mine, are on an acre or two and they have ample space for a nice country home and a well and a septic system. There is plenty of space for a garden and a barn and you can’t hear what your neighbors are watching on TV. Even a couple of acres is a lot to take care of. Rather than try to mow it all, my son Eric and I planted an acre of walnut trees on our lot back in 1976 and now we have a nice woods. An acre or two is plenty of room for real country living.

There is plenty of land in the township that is really unsuitable for farming. Some of it is too hilly, or the soil is poor, or it is too wet to farm. That land would be great for small country homes and should be zoned that way. The good, rich farmland should stay in farms and farmers should be encouraged to hold their land together. But if we are going to welcome 50 new families into the Township next year, wouldn’t it be better to put them all on a total of 50 or 60 acres than to use up 250 acres of our best farmland just to put them each on a 5 acre lot?


Some of you are probably asking who is this guy, Alan King? He is a Xenia native. He and his partner of 24 years, Karen, are proprietors of Kiddie Kingdom Childcare and Express Yourself Coffeehouse. In case you haven’t guessed, he digs land ( BS in Geology), and likes working with children (MS Teaching). He is also an Army veteran.

Have you got questions? He can be reached at or 937-372-4986