Joshua Culling

FL: ATR Supports Rick Scott's Budget


Posted by Joshua Culling on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, 10:23 AM PERMALINK


Last month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his FY 2012-13 budget proposal. The $69.4 billion budget is a net tax cut of around $100 million over two years, with the reductions mostly targeting small businesses and manufacturers. Scott is one of 13 current governors who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and this proposal is in keeping with that promise never to raise taxes.

Gov. Scott has walked the walk since his swearing in a year ago. After a modified form of his initial budget proposal passed the legislature, he used his line item veto to strike an unprecedented $900 million in spending, underscoring his commitment to a lean, efficient government. Since the governor has taken office, Florida has created over 100,000 private sector jobs, a trend that should continue through his first term:

ATR President Grover Norquist sent a letter today to the Florida Legislature urging passage of Gov. Scott's budget. The full letter is pasted below. For a PDF, click here.

January 3, 2012

 

Florida Senate
Florida House of Representatives

Dear Legislator,

I write in support of Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget proposal, which balances Florida’s books while keeping the governor’s pledge never to raise taxes. The $66.4 billion spending plan maintains Florida’s commitment to efficient government while reducing taxes for small businesses and manufacturers.

Aided by the support and hard work of the legislature, Gov. Scott signed a budget last year that cut taxes and spending, paving the way for the creation of over 100,000 private sector jobs. It is important to continue that obligation to prioritize spending, cut government where it has grown too large, and maintain Florida’s status as a magnet for economic growth and job creation.

Florida has been one of America’s most prominent growth centers over the past decade. You are one of two states to add more than one Congressional seat in the most recent round of reapportionment, as population has fled the Midwest and Northeast for the low tax, low regulation, Right to Work states of the South and West. States like Texas and Florida continue to compete on cost and quality of life, and now is certainly not the time to waver in that regard.

From my conversations with Gov. Scott and Leadership in both chambers of the legislature, I know that Florida’s elected officials remain committed to smaller, more efficient government and a tax code that fosters innovation and economic opportunity. The governor’s budget proposal is the latest data point to prove this.

Additionally, I would like to see another push to protect the paychecks of Florida workers from the automatic deduction of union dues. That a union can effectively use the state as a broker to collect dues is a moral outrage. If unions wish to use dues for political purposes, the least they can do is ask their members for the money themselves. This proposal fell short in 2011, but I am confident that we can get this done this year with the commitment from both chambers of the legislature.

To be clear, the current budget proposal does not raise taxes, and a vote in favor is in compliance with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. If you have any questions about the Pledge or ATR’s position on the governor’s budget, please contact Florida State Affairs Manager Joshua Culling at jculling@atr.org.   

Onward,

Grover Norquist

CC: The Honorable Rick Scott

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ATR and AFBI: End Indiana's Death Tax


Posted by Joshua Culling on Friday, December 16th, 2011, 10:37 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform, an organization devoted to opposing any federal or state efforts to increase income taxes on individuals and businesses, and the American Family Business Institute (AFBI), a trade association representing family business owners and farmers, today sent a letter to the Indiana State Senate and House of Representatives urging them to support State Senator Jim Banks’ pending legislation to phase out Indiana’s death tax.

The letter states, “This must be a priority next year. This is a punitive tax on hardworking Hoosiers that ultimately drives them out of state. Indiana should join the number of states who have taken recent action to phase out this economically destructive tax.”

The complete text of the letter reads:

December 12, 2011

Indiana House of Representatives
Indiana Senate

Dear Legislator,

We write in support of Sen. Jim Banks’ pending legislation to phase out Indiana’s death tax. This must be a priority next year. This is a punitive tax on hardworking Hoosiers that ultimately drives them out of state. Indiana should join the number of states who have taken recent action to phase out this economically destructive tax.

Indiana’s death tax is complex and compliance is onerous. But most importantly, it punishes the very ideas of hard work, job creation and savings. Those who pull themselves out of poverty by creating a small business are robbed by their government posthumously as they seek to pass on the fruits of their labors to their descendants. Family farmers are punished as they pass along land and equipment to the next generation. And citizens who pay taxes on income, sales and property their entire lives are hit with yet another layer of taxation after passing away.

There is a burgeoning national trend to do away with death taxes at the state level. Most recently, neighboring Ohio voted to scrap the tax. While Indiana has prided itself on its ability to compete with the rest of the Midwest due to a favorable business climate, the opposition is stiffening. Governors across the region were elected in 2010 with the mandate to reduce the size of government and improve states’ tax climates.

In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill to double the estate tax exemption, while efforts to increase the tax failed recently in North Carolina and Oregon. Indiana should act now or risk erosion of the state’s comparative advantage.

21 states and Washington D.C. still levy either an estate or inheritance tax. Those who do not are a magnet for job creation and economic growth. We urge Indiana to join the growing coalition of states who have recognized the negative impact of the death tax and its barriers to productivity and growth.

For more information on this issue, please contact ATR state affairs manager Joshua Culling at jculling@atr.org, or palmer.schoening@nodeathtax.org.

Onward,

Grover Norquist,
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Dick Patten
President, American Family Business Institute

CC: Governor Mitch Daniels

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ATR Joins Coalition Calling on TN Gov. Haslam to Repeal Death Tax


Posted by Joshua Culling on Friday, December 16th, 2011, 10:29 AM PERMALINK


The American Family Business Institute (AFBI), a trade association representing family business owners and farmers, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), an organization devoted to opposing any federal or state efforts to increase taxes, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an organization of grassroots activists on fiscal and regulatory restraint, the National Taxpayers Union, an organization against government growth and wasteful spending, and the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a research organization dedicated to free market policy solutions, today sent a letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslem expressing grave concern regarding his recent statements indicating a reluctance to repeal the Tennessee inheritance tax. 

The letter states, “We are concerned about some of your recent statements indicating a reluctance to usher through repeal of the Tennessee Inheritance Tax in 2012. We are, however, confident that with your leadership and the support of a very motivated legislature, this important policy measure will be pursued. With control of the Governor’s office and state legislature in Republican hands, now is the time to push forward to swiftly eliminate the Tennessee Inheritance Tax.”

The complete text of the letter reads:

December 15, 2011

Office of Governor Bill Haslam
1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243   

Dear Governor Haslam,

We are encouraged, this year, by your leadership and the work of the Tennessee assembly members to promote a friendlier economic environment for Tennessee’s family business owners, family farmers, and their many employees. In particular, we are encouraged by many members who have publicly vowed to work towards eliminating Tennessee’s Inheritance Tax which is a major obstacle to the survival of family owned businesses and farms.

It is true that while serious reforms like eliminating the death tax present short-term challenges, they are necessary steps towards leaving a legacy of economic prosperity in Tennessee and promoting job creation from the most productive sector of the economy – family businesses.

A recent study on the Tennessee Inheritance tax by Laffer Associates states that “Tennessee’s estate and gift tax is the single greatest reason why wealthy people don’t want to live in Tennessee.” For those that continue to operate in Tennessee, the looming Death Tax burden ties up their working capital in expensive estate plans and life insurance policies. Tennessee’s estate and gift tax, the study claims, has already reduced state GDP by up to $18.2 billion over the past ten years. In addition, the robust economic growth resulting from elimination of the state’s inheritance tax, would have added at least $7 billion to state coffers over the last ten years. The tax currently accounts for less than 1% of total state revenues.

The conditions for repeal will never be as favorable as now. We are concerned about some of your recent statements indicating a reluctance to usher through repeal of the Tennessee Inheritance Tax in 2012. We are, however, confident that with your leadership and the support of a very motivated legislature, this important policy measure will be pursued.

Many winning candidates’ top tax issue, and a pillar of your pro-growth platform during the 2010 election, was promoting the complete repeal of the Tennessee inheritance tax. With control of the Governor’s office and state legislature in Republican hands, now is the time to push forward to swiftly eliminate the Tennessee Inheritance Tax.

The state of Ohio recently repealed their state Estate Tax, making Ohio a more attractive place to keep capital and grow businesses. This was a widely reported and nationally touted victory. We strongly encourage you to work towards full repeal of the Inheritance Tax at the beginning of the next legislative session.

Please contact us if we can be of assistance in this crucial effort.

Sincerely,         

Dick Patten, President, American Family Business Institute
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
Tim Phillips, President, Americans for Prosperity
Duane Parde, President, National Taxpayers Union
Justin Owen, President and CEO, Beacon Center of Tennessee

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President Obama Accepts Reality on Collective Bargaining


Posted by Joshua Culling on Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 10:29 AM PERMALINK


Josh Barro has a great piece in NRO today about the President embracing private sector compensation reform rather than layoffs. Obama cites Marvin Windows and Doors, a Minnesota company that cut pay and benefits but avoided any layoffs during the economic downturn. It's worth reading in full, but here's an excerpt:

But let’s take a closer look at the Marvin model that Obama is praising. The president noted that Marvin’s workers “agree[d] to give up some perks and some pay,” but there wasn’t really an agreement — the workers’ options were to take the pay cut or quit. As one incensed FireDogLake contributor notes, Obama is praising a non-union company for unilaterally cutting its workers’ pay.

Barro goes on to make the case that this is the exact type of choice that is not available in the public sector where collective bargaining exists. Unions time and again choose layoffs over compensation reform, because entrenched union members would avoid the brunt of the layoffs but share the pain of any reductions in wages or benefits.

I'd go a step further and note that unions would argue that the layoffs versus pay cuts dichotomy presents a false choice. Government has a third option: raise taxes and avoid layoffs and compensation cuts.

While this is technically true, it is politically impractical. Ohio is a great example. Last month, voters soundly rejected Issue 2, which would have significantly eroded government unions' collective bargaining power. On the spending side of the ledger, government employee compensation is literally the only area to realize meaningful budget cuts, as wages and benefits constitute up to 90 percent of local budgets.

With that option gone thanks to a dishonest campaign waged by government unions and their allies, tax increases and layoffs now present the only opportunities to balance local budgets. Except that voters in Ohio simultaneously rejected tax increases en masse. There were 21 new local income taxes on the ballot last month; 17 of them failed, by an average margin of 60-40. 117 new school levies went before voters; 85 of them failed.

The only option left, of course, is widespread layoffs of police officers, fire fighters and teachers. In Central Ohio, the Mayor of Lancaster announced the layoff of 13 firefighters even before the referendum on Senate Bill 5 last month. In suburban Columbus, Westerville schools plan to cut about 175 teaching positions, while Cincinnati officials immediately announced that public sector layoffs are likely in the wake of the election.

No matter what you believe with respect to cutting the public payroll, one thing is certain: Unions are certainly not protecting education and public safety jobs, and collective bargaining is almost solely to blame.

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ID: Rep. Dennis Lake, "Errand Boy" for the Tax Hike Lobby


Posted by Joshua Culling on Monday, December 12th, 2011, 4:06 PM PERMALINK


Here he goes again. Idaho Rep. Dennis Lake, Chair of the powerful Revenue and Taxation Committee, is poised to introduce a massive tobacco tax increase in 2012. The proposal is being supported by a coalition of special interests lobbying for higher taxes. Lake has unsuccessfully agitated for higher tobacco taxes consistently in the past.

Rather than take on the difficult decisions and prioritization expected of a legislator, Rep. Lake is content to erode Idaho's competitiveness by raising taxes. In fact, he has essentially deemed the pro-tax coalition his puppetmaster:

Lake told IdahoReporter.com Monday that is he serving as an “errand boy” for ACS and will bring the bill if the group asks him to do so.

While the American Cancer Society and the coalition backing Lake's bill never cast a vote for him or reside in his district, he pathetically calls himself an "errand boy" working exclusively at their behest. I would guess that most Idaho taxpayers are opposed to a tax increase that puts the state's retailers at a massive disadvantage with every bordering state save Washington. And that they aren't keen on millions of dollars in higher taxes falling squarely on the shoulders of the state's low-income smokers.

But at least there's a clear plan for spending the money, right? Nope:

Idaho could raise more than $50 million in new money annually if the plan successfully makes its way through the Legislature. Lake says there is no definite plan for spending the money...

Ah. No plan for how the money will be spent. $50 million in higher taxes for the sake of higher taxes. All because a coalition of special interests told him to do so. One can only hope Rep. Lake is as unsuccessful in this effort as he has been in the past.

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Norquist: Tax Reform in Georgia is About Reducing Marginal Rates


Posted by Joshua Culling on Monday, December 12th, 2011, 3:33 PM PERMALINK


Last year, Georgia lawmakers attempted historic tax reform, working to lower marginal rates while broadening the overall tax base. Unfortunately, their first attempt was miscalculated, resulting in a massive tax hike proposal. After working out the kinks, a revenue neutral reform was crafted that brought marginal income tax rates from 6 percent down to 4.5 percent. But the political maelstrom that resulted from the first attempt had not yet subsided, and the reform package foundered.

We commended Gov. Nathan Deal and the Republican legislature at the time, recognizing their steadfast belief that tax reform and tax increases are mutually exclusive. The conservative goal in any tax reform is to reduce marginal rates. Base broadening is generally a political pay-for in the name of making the tax code more competitive. But our friends on the left see base broadening (as well as targeted excise taxes) as the end goal, a stealth method of raising the overall tax burden.

Georgia seems prime for a second attempt at tax reform this year. ATR's position is that lawmakers should be laser focused on reducing the state's 6 percent marginal income tax rate, which is simply not competitive in the region. Any offsetting revenue should be less than or equal to the negative revenue impact of the rate cuts. It should also come from within the existing sales or income tax bases, rather than punitive and economically silly excise tax hikes.

Today in a letter to Gov. Deal, Grover wrote:

The conservative goal in any discussion of tax reform is to reduce marginal tax rates. While broadening the tax base in conjunction may also prove beneficial, it is important to do so in a way that is revenue neutral or a net revenue reduction for state government. At Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), our intent is to reduce the scope and size of government, removing disincentives for productivity and barriers to private sector job growth. The government’s ability to meddle in the economy is derived from its ability to tax; that power should be limited.

To read the entire letter, see below. For a PDF, click here.


December 12, 2011

Governor Nathan Deal
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

Dear Gov. Deal,

In advance of the 2012 legislative session, I write to express my hope that Georgia can build upon last year’s work to reform the state’s tax code in a way that does not increase the size of government or its burden on taxpayers. While last year’s effort to reduce marginal tax rates ultimately fell short, the work done in the legislature was a strong step in the right direction. I hope that 2012 will bring meaningful tax reform done in a way that complies with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge signed by you and 54 members of the Georgia General Assembly.

The conservative goal in any discussion of tax reform is to reduce marginal tax rates. While broadening the tax base in conjunction may also prove beneficial, it is important to do so in a way that is revenue neutral or a net revenue reduction for state government. At Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), our intent is to reduce the scope and size of government, removing disincentives for productivity and barriers to private sector job growth. The government’s ability to meddle in the economy is derived from its ability to tax; that power should be limited.

I also caution you and members of the legislature against conflating the idea of base broadening with the temptation of levying new targeted taxes outside the existing sales and income tax bases. Last year’s target was tobacco; this year may be a repeat, or we may hear proposals for excise tax increases on alcohol or sweetened beverages. Whatever the case may be, targeted excise tax increases drive commerce across state lines and hurt small businesses’ bottom lines. Any base broadening should be just that: expanding the scope of existing sales or income taxes and “using” that revenue to lower marginal rates.

But the most important part of tax reform is reducing the number of dollars the government extracts from the productive private sector. It should never be a political maneuver to raise taxes, as so many of our friends on the left have attempted in the past. Georgia’s 6 percent income tax rate is simply not competitive with neighboring Florida and Tennessee, which levy no such tax. The focus should be on reducing that rate and the government’s overall take – not on tax hikes.

I commend you for your commitment to veto all tax increases and hope to be helpful in any tax reform efforts. For any questions on this issue, please contact ATR state affairs manager Joshua Culling at jculling@atr.org.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

CC: Georgia House of Representatives

        Georgia Senate

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NH: Ovide Lamontagne Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by Joshua Culling on Thursday, December 8th, 2011, 12:12 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform today applauds New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The Pledge is a binding commitment to oppose and veto all tax increases. He is the first candidate in New Hampshire’s gubernatorial race to sign the Pledge this cycle.

While ATR promotes and maintains the Pledge, it is in fact made to a candidate’s constituents, who are entitled to know where a candidate stands before casting their votes. 13 incumbent governors and nearly 1300 state legislators have signed the Pledge. On the federal level, nearly every presidential candidate and every Republican in Congress has signed the Pledge.

“I applaud Ovide Lamontagne for making a written commitment to New Hampshire voters never to raise their taxes,” said ATR President Grover Norquist. “He joins a number of candidates and elected officials at the state and federal levels in taking tax increases definitively off the table.

“The legislature’s Republican leadership has cut taxes and reduced spending, balancing New Hampshire’s budget while maintaining the state’s status as the most prosperous and free in New England,” continued Norquist. “But we are literally a governor away from historic, seismic reforms. Ovide Lamontagne is committed to working with the legislature where the current governor has resisted, and keeping the burden of government low for New Hampshire taxpayers.”

Copies of the Pledge are available at www.atr.org or by calling (202) 785-0266.

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Washington State: There She Goes Again


Posted by Joshua Culling, Will Upton on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 5:02 PM PERMALINK


Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire outlined her budget proposal yesterday, which includes $776 million in tax increases. She asks voters to approve a nearly $500 million sales tax increase that would give Washington the nation's second-highest statewide sales tax, trailing only our national embarrassment, California.

She wants a few hundred million more from energy consumers and those who purchase automobiles, tobacco, financial services and lottery tickets. While none of this is shocking, it certainly is bad news for Washington taxpayers.

Thankfully, neighboring Oregon doesn't levy a statewide sales tax at all, making Christmas shopping a bit easier on those who are able to cross the border this holiday season. But that is no consolation for retailers, who are dealt yet another blow by their lame duck governor. Tobacco tax hikes will make it more difficult for convenience stores to make payroll, and a $131 million increase on oil companies will drive up heating costs this winter.

ATR President Grover Norquist wrote a letter to Washington legislators today urging them to vote NO on Gregoire's latest tax-and-spend folly. See the full letter below:

November 22, 2011

Washington House of Representatives
Washington Senate

Dear Legislator: 

I write to in opposition to Gov. Christine Gregoire’s tax hike laden proposed budget. She calls for Washington’s first sales tax increase in nearly three decades, along with higher energy and lifestyle taxes. This $776 million tax hike is the latest in the governor’s established legacy of higher taxes and bigger government, which Washington taxpayers cannot afford. 

The sales tax increase is the most costly proposal, amounting to a regressive tax increase of $494 million on struggling Washington families. The new 7 percent rate would give Washington the nation’s second-highest statewide sales tax, closing in hard on California. And with Oregon’s lack of a sales tax at all, it isn’t hard to envision the flood of consumers crossing state lines this holiday season. When factoring in local tax burdens, this proposal becomes even more problematic. For example, some residents of King County would pay a whopping 10 percent sales tax. 

The 25-cent tax increase on cigarettes is another tax hike in the Gregoire budget that will disproportionately impact low-income and middle-income families who are already struggling in these tough economic times. Additionally, lifestyle tax hikes such as this are damaging to small businesses, especially those that are located near Washington’s borders with surrounding states. Consumers are not deterred by a short drive if the tax on a product is lower in another state. 

When Washington raised the cigarette tax by a staggering 49-percent in 2010, the state saw a 21.8 percent decline in the volume of sales.  This equated to over $20million in foregone expected revenue.  At the same time, Oregon saw a 17 perecent increase in sales volume and a $15.5 million increase in revenue. Idaho saw a 14 percent increase in volume of sales and a $2 million increase in revenue. 

There are over 1,000 Washington retailers who do business within 25 miles of the state’s borders. During the last tax increase on cigarettes, retailers in Washington’s border counties saw a decrease of nearly 22 percent in sales volume in the 17 months following the increase.  And this affects the small business community as a whole: Cigarette sales make up over one-third sales for convenience stores.  

And increases in the B&O tax rate on Oil and Financial institutions’ windfall profits would only discourage the development of businesses and jobs in the oil and financial sectors in Washington while increasing consumer prices. 

The governor is employing the politics of fear to sell her $776 million tax increase. As Sen. Mike Hewitt said, her logic that tax hikes will prevent drastic spending cuts to popular programs is very much a “Chicken Little” strategy. Instead, the governor should work with the legislature to ensure that priorities remain funded while spending is cut elsewhere in the budget. An $800 million tax increase is not the answer.

For questions about ATR’s position on this issue, contact state affairs managers Joshua Culling or Will Upton at jculling@atr.org and wupton@atr.org, respectively.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

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ATR Urges YES on Rhode Island Pension Reforms


Posted by Joshua Culling on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 6:27 PM PERMALINK


Tomorrow, the Rhode Island House and Senate will consider H6319 and S1111, which bring serious and necessary reforms to the state's public pension funds. Rhode Island's state and local funds are underfunded by over $7.3 billion and require a combined annual payment of nearly $700 million. This legislation would nearly halve both of those numbers.

The bills would shift Rhode Island from defined benefit pensions to a hybrid defined benefit-defined contribution system. They would also raise retirement ages and freeze cost of living adjustments until the system reaches a more healthy funding level. Importantly, much of these reforms go into effect immediately for existing workers, bending the cost curve downward at a more accelerated pace than similar reforms that apply only to future hires.

In a letter to the Legislature, ATR President Grover Norquist urged a yes vote on H6319 and S1111:

November 16, 2011

Rhode Island House
Rhode Island Senate

Dear Legislator,

I am writing in strong support of H6319 and S1111, which bring urgent reforms to Rhode Island’s public pension system. With a combined unfunded liability of over $7.3 billion, quick action is necessary to get state and local pension obligations in order. I urge a yes vote on these principled reforms.

A hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution pension system is among the most important reforms in this legislation. By personalizing retirement savings, the state simultaneously gives more investment control to its employees while sharing more investment risk with them. It also gives public employees a partially portable retirement account, and allows them to supplement their savings and grow their investments long after retirement.

Raising the retirement age and freezing cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are also important steps. Rhode Island can no longer afford the status quo. This legislation increases the normal retirement age to the Social Security Normal Retirement Age of 67 years, while raising the retirement age of public safety workers from 52 years to 55 years. It suspends automatic COLAs until all state-administered pension funds are 80 percent funded.

All told, these reforms will reduce Rhode Island’s unfunded liability by over 41 percent, and cut state and local annually required contributions by nearly 44 percent. This is progress toward long-term sustainability.

Rhode Island has the opportunity to be the next major reformer in the public pension sphere. It is imperative that state and local governments tackle these issues immediately, before pension obligations consume entire budgets. This is a serious and commendable step in that direction. I urge a yes vote on these reforms.

Please contact Rhode Island state affairs manager Joshua Culling at jculling@atr.org or 202-785-0266 with any questions.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

CC: The Honorable Lincoln Chafee

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Ohio: Lancaster Mayor Chooses Massive Tax Hikes Over Real Reform


Posted by Joshua Culling on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 3:17 PM PERMALINK


Today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) expressed its disappointment with Lancaster, Ohio Mayor David Smith, a nominal Republican who has proposed a multi-million dollar income tax increase rather than embrace the spending reforms of Issue 2. Soon after the layoffs of 13 city firefighters because of spiraling labor costs, Mayor Smith opted to push a large tax hike rather than concede that Issue 2 will prevent such sudden layoffs and preserve response times for police and fire fighters.

ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

Apparently Mayor Smith has not been paying much attention to current events in Columbus, so I offer a quick primer: Republicans chose to balance the state budget without painful tax increases, in fact reducing Ohio’s overall tax burden. Now, they have set out to give local governments the flexibility to balance their own budgets without job-killing tax increases or disruptive layoffs of first responders. The way to achieve this is to uphold Senate Bill 5 next week by passing Issue 2.

Unfortunately, Mayor Smith has no interest in avoiding tax increases or layoffs. Instead, he seeks to make a political point by allowing the layoffs to happen, blame others for his mistake, and then push for a multi-million dollar tax increase to somehow save the day. This is a strange approach.

Ohioans have made clear that they are tired of the tax-and-spend-and-blame game that had become so popular in the state over the past decade. So rather than whining about the current state of affairs, I’d advise the Mayor to embrace the fundamental reforms of Issue 2, get labor costs under control, and retract his previous flirtation with massive tax increases.

Similar to many politicians in Washington, D.C., Mayor David Smith chose tax hikes in lieu of the challenging task of governing, which requires making difficult decisions to reform government. Ohio has averaged 1,105 local tax hike proposals over the past six years – this is simply more of the same coming from Lancaster. But it is not too late to reverse course. I urge him to do so.

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