Kasich wants to use a fee increase on fracking operations to provide an income tax cut that would net the average Ohioan about 40 cents per week, or $21 per year.
Kasich’s plan reminds me of a great scene from the Simpson’s Movie: as the Simpson’s drive into Alaska, a state employee hands Homer $1000. Homer asks “why?” The explanation: “We pay every resident a thousand dollars to allow the oil companies to ravage our state’s natural beauty.”
If Ohio is committed to selling out to the oil companies, then, as Joe hinted at, there is a much better use for the money: restore the cuts to the Local Government Fund.
In the last budget approximately $550 million was cut from the Local Government Fund. A quick review of recent articles on the impact of state budget cuts reveals that communities face a choice of either cutting police or fire services, or raising taxes. But here is the kicker: the increase in local taxes is almost certainly greater than any tax cut from the state:
• Upper Arlington sought a special police and fire levy to make up lost funds.
• Bucyrus sought a levy for police and fire. The newspapers noted that the police department has 17 officers when city the size of Bucyrus should have at least 24 officers. “To put it bluntly, the safety forces are in dire straits,” police Chief Ken Teets was quoted as saying.
• Akron was able to hire eight new police officers last year. However, Public Service Director Rick Merolla was quoted as saying that his department is down about 20 percent from three years ago.
• The Cincinnati Enquirer noted that Amberley Village residents could see their local taxes more than double to pay for police service and Springfield Township sought alvey to avoid laying off firefighters.
You know it’s bad when the folks in California notice. A recent LA Times article highlighted the effects in the village of Uniopolis, where the entire police force (OK, one part-time officer) was eliminated. The article noted the effect of the loss of state government funds on law enforcement: “Around the state, police departments have laid off staff — in some cases, half of the officers.”
This does not seem all that complicated: by restoring the cuts to the local government fund, Kasich can provide sufficient public safety services and, likely, avoid having citizens pay higher local taxes. Indeed, it seems a bill to do just that has been introduced by State Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown, and State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield – we hope its gets a fair hearing.