Ever since Gov. Kasich awarded himself the game ball for the future health of Ohio’s economy, it has begun to lose air. Apparently many local elected officials and county officers never got the memo.
In Akron, for example, the city’s coffers have lost $5.5 million that have vaporized in local government funds since 2011 when Kasich took office as an assertive leader too big to fail. Diane Miller-Dawson, the city’s finance director, worries that it’s likely to get worse as the Republican legislative goon squads look for new ways to starve the cities to satisfy their provincial districts.
She notes there have been previous cuts in estate taxes that bolster the city’s general funds. To meet the shortages, she says, there have been cuts in safety forces and in other service areas.
Summit County, meanwhile, has been bleeding financially. The annual budget has been cut $100 million since the beginning of the recession. Local government funding is down $5 million. That has left county Executive Russ Pry spending more than a little time hunting around for ways to offset the shrinkage.
But wait, dear reader. The budget signed by Kasich also will eliminate a 12.5 pct. tax break for home owners that has been around since the 1970s. It will apply to any new local tax levy sought by by schools or for other government services. Can you imagine going to the public with a new school levy and having someone remind that the voters that it will cost only the new levy but an additonal 12.5 pct ? Good luck on that, particularly since the state budget increases school funding by $700 million (Hooray!) , but is still a half-billion less than what the schools got in 2009. Charter school beneficiaries: Who knew?
Summit is not alone. Average property tax rates in Cuyahoga County over the past three years have risen 12.9 pct.; Lake County, 17.2 pct. and in House Speaker Bill Batchelder’s Medina County, 13.6 pct!.
Then, of course, there’s the rise in sales taxes – the most regressive of the evil reforms. However, Senate President Keith Faber has been assuring all of the folks down the ladder that “we’re trying to create a flatter and fairer tax system that helps Ohioan.” He says local government must “operate within your means”.
Easy for Faber, the GOP politician from Celina, Oh. (Pop. about 10,000) to say – but not so easy when urban areas are trying to meet a bed sheet list of service problems.
Even before the budget passed along partisan lines, the respected Tax Foundation referred to Ohio’s reputed “tax reforms” as only making things worse. And that bastion of liberalism, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, concluded way back in March that the Kasich Tax plan was an unhealthy shift.
But then Kasich wrote in a guest column for a Dayton business journal on Independence Day:
“As a fitting companion to Independence Day, I recently signed into law a budget bill for our state which reinforced some of the best things about America and Ohio, especially the freedom to pursue our great ideas and the opportunity to reach our God-given potential”. (As opposed to the worst things in Ohio like background gun checks, abortion and gay marriage?)
From that perspective, the companies that make those little needles to inflate game balls will be a growth industry in Ohio by next year’s election.