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Proposed Ohio Budget

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    Posted: May 18 2009 at 9:32am
by J. William Duning

One time monies. The proposed state budget contains so much one-time money that it is certain that the next two-year budget will bring either tax increases or cuts of basic programs, or both.

The spending of one-time money – whether from the federal stimulus or rainy day funds – will undermine future budgets, leaving a projected $6 billion deficit starting in the 2012 fiscal year. At that time, one-time monies will no longer be available to meet any budget deficit, and the sums to which we are now being obligated will have to come from somewhere. That somewhere will be from the earnings of Ohio taxpayers.

Fee increases. Ohio’s taxpayers are to pay the price for this budget in many ways, including fee increases effective this July. Raising fees is just another word for raising taxes. As Gov. Strickland told the Columbus Dispatch in January 2007 - "higher fees are higher taxes."

Fee increases hurt our economy. For example, the proposed franchise fee increase on Ohio’s hospitals, also known as a bed tax, totals more than $600 million dollars. As the Columbus Dispatch said in a March 6th editorial:    
A franchise fee could mean more layoffs, cuts in services, or higher prices, which would be passed along to employers and workers in the form of higher insurance premiums. That would cause more people to lose their jobs or become uninsured, which would result in larger Medicaid enrollments, which would mean that even more money would be needed for Medicaid. This is a downward spiral.

We believe that raising taxes is the wrong way to stimulate our economy.

Some argue that increased fees are a responsible way to close a budget gap.

We say that the only way to solve our budget problems is to live within our means. Our state government is simply too large and spends too much.
The spending plan. The proposed budget includes a spending plan that is not sustainable. The plan uses federal stimulus money as a one-time patch that will cause a future need for more state dollars, just to get back to even. Now is not the time for more state spending. The national debt is over $11 trillion. Every American family of four is carrying a $140,000 "fair-share" of this debt. Consumer credit card debt is astronomical as well, estimated at approximately $961 billion. This is not the time to avoid tough spending decisions. The proposed budget worsens Ohio’s balance sheet and depletes Ohio’s "Rainy Day" Fund. Ultimately, that balance will have to be paid – with interest – by our children and grandchildren.

Our opportunity now is an opportunity to prioritize the budget and rethink the way state government operates. We need candid discussions about Ohio’s financial future. State government must live within its means.
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