Budget Opponents Come From All Sides
The latest group to mobilize and testify against Gov. John Kasich's budget is one that isn't entirely unexpected, given its proposed increases in taxes on businesses. Nine chambers of commerce, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, came out against the proposal, saying that their research shows the growth from the income tax cuts in the budget won't offset the damage to businesses through increases in the sales tax, the commercial activity tax, the severance tax on oil and gas drillers and the tax on cigarettes and tobacco products. Joe Roman is president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
"If we in fact cut income taxes but have negative ramifications to the business community and all of their employees, we are not moving ahead. So we really want to work with the governor and the legislature, but upon first blush and the work that we did, we really think we need some more work at making sure we understand that critical balance."
What is somewhat surprising is that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce endorsed Kasich in his re-election last year, and broke a century old tradition of not endorsing candidates for governor when it backed Kasich in 2010. But the Chamber's Dan Navin says this doesn't mean there's a rift between his group and the governor.
"There are times, however, where you're climbing the same mountain but you're taking a different path. And so I think this is another example of one of those kinds of situations where the objective's the same but there are different ways of getting there."
What is somewhat surprising is that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce endorsed Kasich in his re-election last year, and broke a century old tradition of not endorsing candidates for governor when it backed Kasich in 2010. And the Chamber backed the governor last year even though his last budget included some of the same ideas, such as an increase in the state sales tax, the severance tax, the cigarette tax. But the Chamber's Dan Navin says this doesn't mean there's a rift between his group and the governor.
"It's clear it's not just business. There are a whole slew of different people who are dissatisfied with this proposal and I think it's pretty plain that it's not going to come through both houses of the General Assembly intact."
So if lawmakers are going to change it, one has some ideas for them to consider. Republican Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati is suggesting keeping the 23 percent income tax cut and paying for it with a half percent increase in the state sales tax. But he'd make changes in the increase in the commercial activity tax, and would replace Kasich's plan to cut all income taxes on businesses with less than 2 million dollars in gross receipts with an income tax exemption for the first quarter million. He says an appropriate severance tax would be somewhere between Kasich's 6.5% and the 2.5% passed by the House last year. And he says the cigarette tax increase of a dollar per pack should be just 25 cents because that tax is already - to use his word - "outrageous".
But Seitz says these are just ideas.
"It was intended to start a discussion, it was intended to stimulate discussion, and it was intended to be responsive to the Governor's request that those of us that have quibbles with his plan owe it to the people and to him to come up with alternatives."
And Seitz says he sent those ideas to Kasich and his fellow lawmakers because time is running out. The House had hoped to pass the budget in April, to give the Senate time to debate it. It needs to be signed by the governor by July 1.