In the 11th hour of the biennial budget debate, statehouse Republicans who control both chambers and the governor's mansion have proposed a brand new tax system that will affect Ohio taxpayers. This new iteration of a major tax code overhaul is wrong for Ohioans as it will continue to shift the tax burden on to middle- and lower-income tax payers.
This new, $2.6 billion dollar tax package will disproportionately hurt working families and the middle class by increasing the sales tax to 5.75 percent in order to pay for a cut to personal income taxes and a hefty business tax cut. For example, this means every time you go to the store and buy necessities for your family, your bill will be higher so that wealthy Ohioans can get out of paying their fair share in taxes. The state of Ohio should not be funding income tax cuts for the rich with tax increases that will disproportionately hurt the middle class.
This $2.6 billion would be better used in a way that will create jobs, lift up our standard of living and help our communities thrive. When including cuts in the last budget cycle and current spending levels in HB 59, education funds in Ohio have been slashed by more than $1.8 billion, while local government funding has been cut by $2.4 billion.
This has had dire effects on our local communities. During the May primary, Ohio voters were faced with 136 education and local government levies. These tax levies are needed in these communities to support fire, EMS, police and education services since state funding for these purposes has dried up. Unfortunately, not all of the levies passed, and we will see schools close, and police and fire departments run on dangerously low staffing levels. These levies are due in large part to an ongoing tax shift in which the state reduces support for schools and local governments in order to fund tax cuts at the state level - just like the tax package that will be voted on this week.
Instead of this unnecessary tax cut, the General Assembly should use the $2.6 billion in a way that will have an immediate effect on hiring and providing essential services that all Ohioans rely on - through increased funding for education and local governments. It is these priorities that will have the largest impact for Ohio and its taxpayers.
(McVey is the president of the Upper Ohio Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO.)