Posted July 15, 2015 in Selected Press
The new state budget continues to slash critical funding from Ohio communities
Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers boast that their new state budget will give generous tax breaks to Ohio families and small businesses. But the plan will do that partly on the backs of the poor, as well as cities and counties, which lose millions of dollars of desperately needed revenue.
The budget will cut $36 million from local government funding, a loss of more than 30 percent, according to a recent analysis by progressive advocacy group Policy Matters Ohio. Most communities that rely on the fund for essential operations, such as police and fire service, will see their aid cut or eliminated entirely.
Lucas County will see cuts of hundreds of thousands of dollars to local governments and other institutions, including the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, and the Metropark system.
These devastating cuts continue state government’s trend of handing tax breaks to the highest earners at the expense of ordinary Ohioans and Ohio’s communities. The budget includes a regressive income tax cut of more than $1 billion, most of which will go to Ohioans in the highest tax brackets while leaving the poorest paying more. The cuts will make Ohio’s income tax rates some of the lowest in the country.
Toledo won’t lose local government funding, but that’s because the city already lost its state aid under previous budgets. Most jurisdictions’ funding was cut under the first budget signed by Mr. Kasich, Wendy Patton, an analyst for Policy Matters, told The Blade’s editorial page.
Some small townships and villages facing financial trouble will get more money — but it will be diverted from aid allocated to larger cities. Much of the reason small communities are in financial straits, Ms. Patton’s report rightly points out, is that the state has slashed their aid. Depriving any communities of needed funds while carving out tax cuts for the wealthy is shortsighted.
Ohio sorely needs an urban agenda — a set of policies to bolster the state’s metropolitan regions that drive the state’s economy. But few members of the General Assembly have advocated for cities or their financial needs. Lawmakers in recent years also have eliminated the estate tax, a tax on the richest households that returned revenue to local government. Simply for spite, the new budget will withhold funding from cities such as Toledo that continue to use traffic cameras while courts consider the constitutionality of Ohio’s ban on them.
An ideology that promotes tax cuts at all costs has undermined Ohio’s communities. States that invest in their cities and communities, as drivers of economic development, have done better. To be sure, businesses look at tax rates when deciding where to invest. But an educated work force, good roads, mass transit, and other amenities are more important.
Instead of holding cities and communities back, state budgets should help them become desirable places to live and invest in.
Original Article: http://www.toledoblade.com/Featured-Editorial-Home...