You know it is Sunday when Joe Hallett is once again proclaiming the good word… about taxes! And this week, he is joined in his chorus by editor emeritus Brent Larkin of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Together, with more than 450 years of combined experience bloviating about state politics, they came out swinging today in defense of Ohio’s job-killing tax rates.
First, Mr. Hallett starts out with an assault on State Rep. John Adams, a kick-ass Navy Seal and principled conservative, who is finally getting a hearing on his proposal to scrap the income tax only because pathetic Democrats wants to use the opportunity to flog John Kasich, who also supports gutting the tax. Here is part of Joe’s column, which was perhaps ghost written by Gov. Strickland’s budget director/lesbian pirate Pari Sabety:
Here are some questions for John Adams, the live Republican state representative from Sidney, not the dead president from Massachusetts.
You have introduced a bill to phase out the state income tax over 10 years. This year, the income tax will raise $7.6 billion, accounting for 45 percent of all tax revenue raised by the state. If you succeed in killing the income tax, how will you replace the lost revenue?
Are you prepared, Representative Adams, to raise the state sales tax by 6 cents to a national high of 11.5 cents on the dollar? That’s how much would be needed to replace revenue lost by killing the income tax. How do you think your friends at the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the National Federation of Independent Businesses would react to more than doubling the sales tax?
Are you willing to let schools in your home county of Shelby and others close? In the current two-year budget, the state is spending $14.2 billion from its general revenue fund on primary and secondary schools. That’s roughly how much the state income tax will generate during those two years for the fund.
Without the income tax, how will you keep schools open? The tax was instituted by the General Assembly in 1971 because financially ailing schools all over the state were closing. When Republicans asked Ohioans to repeal the tax a year later, the voters opted by a 69-31 margin to keep it.
The state of Ohio this year will spend $2,220 for every man, woman and child living in Shelby County, Representative Adams. Are you prepared to tell them they can expect to be less educated, less safe, less healthy and more inconvenienced because of drastic cuts of services that would result from killing the income tax?
At a legislative hearing last week on your bill, Representative Adams, you said: “This is falsely reported as requiring cuts in government spending. Government spending will continue to grow under my plan.”
How can that be, when you deprive government of one of its primary sources of funding? And isn’t reducing government spending by starving it of money a big reason why you want kill the income tax?
As Hallett remembers, when he was slightly-less old, Ohio was able to perform all the functions of government without an income tax.
Proposals to scrap the income tax always involve a series of benchmarks overtime, because even though the future is impossible to predict (as we saw with the recent economic collapse), the logic behind the econometrics are solid: That as Ohio reduces its income tax, it becomes a friendlier place to conduct business- Ohio’s population grows and businesses prosper. And as Ohio is slowly seen as essentially a tax haven for entrepreneurs and high net-worth individuals, the revenue that is collected- not just through a sales tax but perhaps with a slight increase in the CAT tax or property tax- would allow government to function perfectly well after a series of cuts in spending that are entirely possible and VERY necessary!
As to the question of education, it is clear that more money to school districts does not equate with higher tax scores and graduation rates. With private and religious instruction often costing a fraction of their public counterparts, an increase in an emphasis on school choice would save the state tremendous amounts of money.
But why would the cuts need to be specifically in education? Joe Hallett is simply using education to play on readers emotions, as it involve children and education. Let’s think about what else could be cut, that might not tug on your heart strings. For example:
- Repeal the recent state SCHIP and healthcare expansion
- Eliminate the Ohio EPA (a duplicate of the Federal EPA, except with an extra layer of unique, expensive red tape for business)
- Reform medicaid with cheaper alternatives like income care, and don’t pay for extra services, such as chiropractic. Or privatize the system entirely, by subsidizing private insurance plans of their choice or even fund HSAs.
- Eliminate the Department of Development, the epicenter of pork and corporate welfare. Stop wasting money on “green initiatives” and what not.
- Eliminate e-Tech Ohio
- Eliminate the Commission on Minoirty Health
- Reform state employee perks and pensions
- Implement House Republican Leader Bill Batchleder’s plan to restructure state government and easily save approximately $1 billion/year.
These are just a few ideas… I am sure there are plenty more ideas, but what do I know… I’m just some jerk blogger! But my point is, Joe Hallett is not intellectually curious enough to explore such possibilities.
Then, not to be outdone, Brett Larkin attacks John Kasich for his support of reducing and scrapping the state income tax… saying he is as EXTREME as Ken Blackwell! OH MY! THE HORROR!
But instead of a winning plan, Kasich has offered up a reckless one — a 10-year phaseout of the state’s income tax. And it will enable the governor to spend millions on an advertising message that his Republican opponent is an extremist who advocates policies that would destroy Ohio’s schools and universities, while punishing its most vulnerable citizens — especially children.
Ohio has never been a state to take big risks in electing governors. Three Republicans — Jim Rhodes, George Voinovich and Bob Taft — served as governor of Ohio in 32 of the 44 years from 1963 to 2007. All three were political moderates.
In 2006, Ken Blackwell became the most conservative Republican gubernatorial nominee in at least a half-century — perhaps ever. And though Blackwell’s landslide loss to Strickland can be attributed to many factors — some beyond the candidate’s control — one of those factors was Blackwell’s support for a constitutional amendment called the Tax and Expenditure Limitation, which would have dramatically limited state and local-government spending.
Republican moderates hated it, as did educators. With GOP business leaders poised to oppose the TEL, the Republican-run legislature allowed Blackwell to save face by passing a version so watered down that it meant essentially nothing.
Nevertheless, the TEL cemented Blackwell’s reputation — fairly or not — as an extremist who advocated policies far from the mainstream. Of Cuyahoga County’s 1,434 precincts, several hundred enjoy a Republican advantage. On Election Day 2006, Blackwell outpolled Strickland in three precincts.
You may not be aware of my involvement in the TEL campaign, but I know more about the Amendment than most. In fact, in the heat of the primary battle against liberal Republican Jim Petro, I was responsible for writing the talking points in defense of the Amendment.
The TEL Amendment wouldn’t have “dramatically limited state and local government spending.” It would have capped increases at 3.5% or the rate of inflation, plus adjustments for population growth. It was an improvement over the impressive Colorado Tabor, as their amendment capped taxation, but it ultimately failed because: 1) It allowed voters to create an exemption for taxation for education. (The TEL did not) and 2) It had a “ratchet down” effect, where in bad economic times when tax collections were down, the mandate for the next year was kept at that lower level (The TEL never decreased spending.).
Blackwell campaign internal polling showed the TEL Amendment was actually wildly popular, even among so-called “Republican moderates”… as long as they weren’t moderate office holders who wanted to use the amendment as a weapon to support Jim Petro. The amendment, while perfect in concept, was poorly written because it did not properly define various forms of local government, didn’t differentiate between tax increases being acceptable if approved by a majority of all registered voters or only the voters who showed up on election day, and it would have been tied up in the courts for years.
So, Speaker Husted and Republican leaders had passed a so-called “legislative TEL”, which was attached to the end of tobacco legislation. So far, state budgets have not surpassed Blackwell’s limitations, because Ted Strickland likes to get more creative with spending: through bond issues, fees, and mandate-infested Federal stimulus dollars.
Mr. Larkin would be wise to speak to OU Economist Richard Vedder, who has written extensively about the fact that when states focus more resources on higher education, the state is actually worse off. To get the cost of higher education under control, it would be wise to eliminate grants, have all education loans handled through private banks, and have any money that does go for higher education follow the student… even if they wish to leave the state. Universities are never asked to reform or shed themselves of burdensome unions… and it is about time for a change.
Larkin and Hallett don’t even try to hide their ideology, and are clearly more interested in ad hominem attacks than a serious debate over policy. This is a serious disservice to their readers, who are currently living in a state that has been economically devastated by the very policies John Kasich wants to change.