Rep. Ashford: Tax Hikes, Funding Cuts From Last Year's Budget Taking Hold
Bad economic growth, increasing local taxes mark one-year anniversary of budget

On Tuesday, House Democratic Whip and State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo)  marked the start of the state’s new fiscal year and the one-year anniversary of the largest General Revenue Fund budget in state history. Gov. Kasich signed the last state budget bill on June 30, 2013. At the time, House Democrats stood in opposition to the budget, saying the toxic mix of tax hikes on working and middle class Ohioans and funding cuts to schools and communities would not create the economic opportunity Kasich and his Republican colleagues promised. 

Republicans used property and sales tax increases along with funding cuts to schools and communities to target tax cuts at the state’s top income earners—a policy they say helps the state’s economy. Still, Ohio’s job creation rate trails the national average, and the state ranks 38 out of 50 over the last year in job creation according to the Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business.

“Historic cuts to local schools and communities force an extra burden on Ohio taxpayers with an increase in local tax levies across the state,” said Rep. Ashford. “With slow economic growth and a lack of good-paying jobs, regular families in Ohio cannot afford the extra tax burden that the state has placed on them. And our state’s slow economic growth shows this.”

In recent weeks, news outlets throughout Ohio have reported that the state continues to shift the tax burden to local homeowners, seniors and farmers. Republicans accelerated the problem through the last state budget when they cut close to $600 million more from Ohio schools compared to 2011 levels. They also continued to cut funding for local communities, bringing the total amount of cuts since 2011 to some $1.1 billion.

Locals have largely viewed the cuts as irresponsible, while the moves have allowed the state to reduce its responsibility for education and essential services. Increasingly, communities and schools are forced to seek more levies from local taxpayers to make up the difference. The non-profit policy think-tank Innovation Ohio calculates that local taxes for schools alone have gone up 34 percent since Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies started cutting funding in 2011.

In addition to cuts, Republican lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich increased the state’s sales tax by 4.5 percent while raising property taxes by 12.5 percent for new and replacement levies. The Kasich Administration estimates the sales tax hike will cost Ohioans at least $425 million over the course of the year, and the 12.5 percent property tax increase could cost local taxpayers millions more.

During last year’s budget debate, House Democrats attempted to invest in middle class Ohioans and reverse the trend of shifting taxes to middleclass homeowners and seniors. Democratic lawmakers have also unsuccessfully pushed the GOP-controlled state government to prioritize schools and communities by restoring state funding to pre-Kasich levels.

Last year’s budget highlights:

  • Biggest budget in state history—$61.7 billion

  • Solidified $532.7 million in cuts from public schools ($1.8 billion cut in 2011)

  • 436 school districts received less money than 2010

  • $95 million more cut from local communities ($1 billion cut in 2011)

  • Ended property tax relief for many Ohio seniors (New homestead exemption limits)

  • Raised state sales tax by 4.5 percent

  • New taxes on digital downloads

  • 12.5 percent tax increase on new and replacement levies

  • Defunded Planned Parenthood and similar women’s healthcare clinics

  • Forced ultrasounds to detect fetal heartbeats prior to abortion

  • Requires doctors to estimate and inform women of the likelihood of a fetus being carried to term

  • Imposed civil and criminal penalties for doctors that follow medical training instead of new political laws

  • Targeted specific women’s healthcare clinics for closure

  • Average $6,083 tax break for top 1 percent of Ohioans

  • Average $12 tax increase for bottom 20 percent of Ohioans


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