John Kasich released his proposed 2016-17 biennium budget early last week. It includes a “tax reform” plan that would greatly increase Ohio’s sales and cigarette taxes to help fund a decrease in Ohio’s income tax, shifting a greater portion of the state’s tax burden to low and middle income Ohioans. The plan has received negative reviews from nearly all of Ohio’s papers, pundits and special interest groups on the left and the right – with one exception: The Columbus Dispatch.
The Columbus Dispatch editorial board wrote in favor of Kasich’s tax-shifting plan calling it a “plan for growth” and dismissing the idea that Ohio’s poor would be negatively impacted by plan, claiming that any mention of shifting the tax burden to lower-income Ohioans should be seen as an “attack from special interests and from those who fan the flames of class war for partisan gain.”
So who are the folks The Dispatch accuses of being partisans fanning the flames of class war? Pretty much everyone in Ohio who has anything to say about the proposal except, of course, the Dispatch itself.
- Republican State Rep. Niraj Antani told the Dayton Daily News that Kasich’s “tax shifting” plan is “regressive” and will “raise taxes on the poor and the middle class.”
- Crain’s Cleveland Business called Kasich’s proposal a “tax-shifting shell game” and “fiscal sleight of hand” that is not only “bad for business” but likely “deter economic growth.” “Hiking taxes here so you can trim them there is no way to balance a state’s budget,” wrote Crain’s.
- Scott Drenkard from the Conservative Tax Foundation wrote in Forbes that “Governor Kasich has a track record of proposing handfuls of hikes to… damaging taxes to make the budget numbers add up.” “Good tax reform is composed of broadening the base, and lowering the rate,” says Drenkard. “The Kasich plan would be a significant narrowing of the tax base, and that makes revenues less stable and less fair.”
- Conservative writer Jason Hart wrote at OhioWatchdog.org that Kasich’s plans “are recycled from budget plans dating to 2012.” Hart quotes Matt Mayer, president of the conservative think tank Opportunity Ohio, who spoke bluntly: “Governor Kasich simply can no longer claim to be a fiscal conservative — he is a tax shifting, big spending populist.”
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer called Kasich’s tax plan “misguided” and correctly noted that the “tax plan, as it stands, would favor better-off Ohioans at the expense of low- and middle-income Ohioans. And that’s not fair.”
- Policy Matters Ohio reminds us that “cutting the income tax and expanding the existing tax break for business income is a failed economic strategy; after 10 years of tax cuts, Ohio still has fewer jobs than it had in 2005, while the nation has gained 6 million.”
The Dispatch editorial board argues that Kasich’s tax plan is good policy and is good for business. Conservative tax and business groups disagree.
The Dispatch editorial board wants us to believe that Kasich’s tax plan won’t hurt low-income Ohioans because they are already getting plenty of help by mooching off the system with their “subsidized housing, free meals for school children, subsidized medical care, subsidized child-care and food stamps.” Republican legislators, Forbes Magazine and pretty much everyone else disagrees.
The Dispatch editors have tied themselves in knots trying to convince their readers that Kasich’s tax plan is good for Ohio, but they can’t change the facts: Kasich’s proposal would make Ohio’s tax code more regressive, driving up everyday costs for regular Ohioans while giving giant tax breaks to Ohio’s richest individuals. This isn’t about partisan gain or class warfare, it’s about what’s best for the most Ohioans – something Kasich’s plan clearly isn’t.