One Ohio Now is a statewide coalition working to hold our elected leaders accountable for real solutions and promoting a balanced approach to Ohio’s budget.
We support investment in education, public safety, social services, and other areas that improve communities and help families. We know that a cuts-only strategy hurts Ohio’s ability to create jobs and grow the economy. It is unfair to shift costs onto schools and local communities. Instead, we support a balanced approach that positions Ohio for good jobs and prosperity.
We need to reform Ohio’s eroded revenue system so that it works for us all. It should grow with the economy and meet the public’s needs. It should be equitable so that everyone – especially big corporations and the richest Ohioans – pays their fair share. And it should be sustainable.
In the 2012-13 state budget, instead of investing to keep business in Ohio and create jobs, politicians chose tax cuts benefiting primarily the richest Ohioans. Support for essentials like schools, libraries, police, and fire was chopped. Our schools, slashed by $1.8 billion, now choose between cutting classes or crowding classrooms. Local governments, which will lose $1 billion in state support, struggle to keep streets repaired, cops on the beat, and firehouses open.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A strong, successful Ohio depends on strategic investment in the services and infrastructure that drive economic growth. Investment helps us weather the weak economy, and positions us for long-term prosperity. We must invest more in people and communities.
We can and should provide education allowing Ohioans to compete globally, infrastructure to support a sound economy, public health and safety that business and residents require, a clean environment for work and play, and a strong safety net protecting the least fortunate.
It’s time that big corporations and the richest Ohioans pay their fair share of taxes to restore funding to vital community services. It’s time for our legislature to stop relying on the privatization of public assets for quick one-time revenue. It’s time for lasting solutions that meet the state’s needs, promote jobs, and maintain the quality of life that Ohioans expect and deserve.
We can reform our revenue system to be equitable and sufficient to meet Ohio’s needs. That’s why One Ohio Now is pushing for common-sense change. Our proposed solutions, coupled with examples of how our system might improve, include:
Review and reduce wasteful tax breaks. Some tax exemptions help regular Ohioans. But too many are special-interest giveaways, costing us hundreds of millions of wasted tax dollars, failing to create jobs, and benefiting only the rich and big corporations. The Ohio General Assembly should thoroughly and regularly review the $7 billion in annual exemptions, credits and deductions that riddle our tax code. These reviews should be coupled with sunset dates for all such breaks. Revenue that the state receives from reducing unproductive tax breaks should be invested in needed services, not funneled into more tax cuts for the rich and big corporations.
Big corporations get tax breaks every year to promote economic development. The state should audit recipients closely to ensure they are creating good jobs. We should also cut wasteful tax breaks. For example, the credit big corporations can receive for losses from long ago, a sales-tax exemption on payments to lobbyists, and the limit on sales tax for time shares in luxury jet aircraft are all clearly unnecessary.
Raise state income-tax rates on the richest Ohioans – those making over a half million dollars a year – and restore the old rate on income over a quarter million dollars a year. One of many potential improvements would be to reinstate the 2005 rate on income over a quarter million dollars and create a new rate on income over a half million dollars. Roughly $650 million a year – enough to make up for almost half the cuts in funding for K-12 education and local government in the current budget – could be generated that way. In this example, the richest 1% on average would pay only a little more than 1% of their income in addition, while close to 99% of Ohioans would pay the same as they do now. Whatever the rates, the richest Ohioans should pay their fair share to fund vital services we all need.
Ensure our taxes on services and natural resources are up to date. As new industries develop and old ones fade, we should adapt. For instance, with the growth in sales over the Internet, online retailers should collect taxes just like local mom-and-pops. If a boom in Ohio natural gas is in store, the tax on oil and gas drilling – well below that in most states – should be raised to cover new costs like road maintenance and environmental protection and prepare for the future.
Reinstate a tax on corporate profits. The share of Ohio state and local taxes paid by businesses has fallen from almost 40% in the late 1970’s to about 30%, leaving Ohio families to shoulder a greater percentage of the tax load. Ohio is now one of only six states without a tax on corporate profits, which was phased out beginning in 2005. We need to restore a tax on corporate profits, without the old loopholes, together with a robust Commercial Activity Tax. Profitable corporations must share responsibility for protecting the education system, human services, and other essentials from which they benefit, rather than just passing the buck.
These sensible changes will help create the kind of Ohio that businesses want to invest in, protect Ohio’s quality of life and invest in our most important resource – our children and grandchildren.
It’s time for our leaders to lead—and One Ohio Now is fighting to make it happen.