I am excited to announce that we will begin utilizing the ODP’s blog to regularly feature thoughts and opinions from leaders around Ohio. Our goal is to keep Ohio Democrats informed on the critical issues in our state and its communities, as well as introduce those Ohioans who are making a difference on these issues every day, at all levels.
Our first submission is from Senate Minority Leader Schiavoni and House Minority Leader Strahorn, explaining the deep problems with Governor Kasich’s budget proposal.
Governor Kasich calls his budget a Blueprint for a New Ohio, but it’s really more of the same. The Governor continues his quest to lower the state income tax by raising taxes that disproportionately impact lower and middle income Ohioans.
Kasich has proposed increasing the state sales tax for the second consecutive budget—this time by 0.5% to 6.25%–and he wants to broaden it to include other services. So, if you think your cable TV bill is too high, it would go even higher and the next time you take a vacation that might cost more too. That’s because cable television subscriptions and travel packages and tours would be taxed.
The tax increases don’t end there. The Governor’s budget calls for raising the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products by $1.00 per pack. While there are public health benefits to reducing smoking, this increase impacts poor Ohioans more than other groups. Increases to the tobacco tax should go to smoking cessation programs not to further income tax cuts.
Even businesses and some senior citizens would not be spared. Larger businesses would be hit with a $691 million increase in the Commercial Activities Tax and senior citizens would have to pay $318 million more because of new means testing for the Social Security deduction and other tax credits.
All of this is being done so people in the top tax brackets can reap the largest benefits from another income tax cut. Democrats in the General Assembly have been calling this misguided policy a “tax shift”. Fortunately, more and more people across the state are waking up to this reality and the negative impact it is having on Ohioans.
Now, even Republicans are beginning to question the Governor’s policies. At a recent media briefing that we attended with reporters from the Associated Press, both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House spoke out against tax shifting. That’s progress, but we have much more work to do.
We urge the citizens of Ohio to get involved and speak out against this continuing tax shift. Call, write or email your elected officials and let them know how you feel. The state budget should reflect priorities that benefit all Ohioans, not just a fortunate few. You can count on Democrats in the general Assembly to stand up for your interests as the budget is debated over the coming months.
Senator Joe Schiavoni, Ohio Senate Minority Leader
Representative Fred Strahorn, Ohio House Minority Leader