Summary and recommendations

January 31st, 2013
   
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The current budget slashed funding for critical services, impacting quality of life in all communities.  This budget should take a more balanced approach by restoring revenue and reversing cuts to schools, local governments and health and human services.

Tax policy

To revamp Ohio’s tax system so it is adequate for state needs, policy makers must:

  • Restore the top income tax rate of 7.5 percent and add a new, 8.5 percent “half-millionaires’ tax” for those earning $500,000 or more per year;
  • Review all tax expenditures, repeal unproductive ones and establish sunset dates for all such expenditures;
  • Levy appropriate taxes on oil and gas companies that extract a one-time resource from Ohio to ensure that they pay what they do in other states, instead of the extremely low rate they now pay. Use of these funds should help impacted communities, restore slashed services, and be used in a permanent fund for risk management purposes;
  • Restore the overall level of general business taxes so that companies pay a reasonable share of the tax load, as they did in the past;
  • Implement a unified development budget that depicts all state support of economic development so that taxpayers and legislators can see clearly annual spending through the tax code and the budget.

Education

  • Restore cuts that have caused local school districts to cut staff and course offerings, increase class sizes, and implement pay-to-play for extracurricular activities;
  • Institute a fair, adequate and equitable funding formula for schools;
  • Apply high standards to charter schools, keeping ineffective schools from opening and closing those that fail their students. Make sure charters become part of a stronger K-12 education system in Ohio, not a means to dismantle it;
  • Fund higher education sufficiently to make tuition at Ohio’s colleges and universities more similar to that in other states;
  • Establish a long-term strategy to restore need-based aid.

Health and human services

  • Initiate a long-term strategy to provide adequate health and human services throughout the state;
  • Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act so as to improve the lives of 456,000 Ohioans, to control growth of health care costs and to bring $17.5 billion into the state, boosting the state budget between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2022 by $1.4 billion;
  • Bring additional federal dollars into the state for care of the elderly and disabled through the Community First Choice Option and the Balanced Incentives Payment Program;
  • Restore early learning and childcare subsidies for young children and their families;
  • Sufficiently fund services for the aging and those with disabilities so that the providers earn a living wage, and agencies have sufficient funds to handle work volume.

Workforce and unemployment compensation

  • Invest in The Sector Partnership Training Fund, which would create a $10 million Sector Partnership Training Fund, funded with a combination of public and private money;
  • Implement a shared work, or short-time compensation program;
  • Provide adequate financing of its unemployment compensation trust fund and a higher taxable wage base, in particular.

As budget negotiations commence, we urge legislators to evaluate the needs of communities and residents. The long-term erosion of Ohio’s public sector has meant that community and family well-being has deteriorated. It’s a long way back up. We must restore schools and communities, boost aid for low-income college students, adequately fund mental health and other important health and human services, and ensure that workforce training programs address the needs of employers and the unemployed. A long-term investment strategy must be based on revenues that are fair, adequate and sustainable. The pending budget discussions provide an opportunity to restore Ohio. Smart choices now will mean less poverty, a stronger and larger middle class, and a healthier economy.

Other sections:
Executive summary
Introduction
Budget baseline
Privatization
Local government
K-12 education
Higher education
Health and human services
Workforce and training
Tax policy