I had the opportunity to testify in support of the Ohio budget yesterday in the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee. A vote is expected in committee and on the House Floor this week.

The budget, which was proposed by Gov. John Kasich and favorably amended by the House, eliminates an $8 billion overspending problem without raising taxes. It in fact reduces Ohio's net tax burden; the House expanded on Kasich's net tax cuts by including a repeal of the state's onerous death tax. The budget is in keeping with the pledge made by Kasich and 22 members of the House, including Speaker Bill Batchelder, to oppose all tax increases. It is serious progress.

From my testimony in the House yesterday:

There are many reasons to oppose tax increases, especially amidst a slow economy. The primary justification is intuitive: Higher taxes extract more money from the productive private sector, where sustainable jobs and wealth are created. They transfer that wealth to the public sector, with its distorted incentive structure and penchant for waste. Tax increases grow government at the expense of productive private citizens and job creators. Every dollar the business community sends to Columbus is a dollar less that can be spent on new hires or re-invested in growing Ohio’s private sector. High taxes chase jobs and population across state lines.

Another important reason to avoid tax hikes speaks to the state’s long-term budget structure. Voters are clamoring for both the federal and state government to cut spending. But until tax increases are taken off the table, real spending cuts will never materialize.

Today ATR sent a letter to the Ohio Legislature urging support of the budget (House Bill 153). To see the text of that letter, see below. For a PDF, click here.

For a PDF of my testimony, click here.

May 3, 2010

Ohio House
Ohio Senate

Dear Legislator,

I write in strong support of House Bill 153, the proposed state budget. In keeping with the pledge Gov. John Kasich and 24 state legislators have made to their constituents never to raise taxes, it eliminates an $8 billion overspending problem while reducing the state’s overall tax burden. I urge you to vote yes.

This budget restores the delayed final year of the 2005 income tax cut and phases out Ohio’s onerous estate tax. It tackles politically difficult but necessary reforms in corrections and Medicaid. It is the beginning of the end of the big government mantra that has plagued Columbus over the past few decades.

If you have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a YES vote on HB 153 as it is currently written is compliant with that pledge.

To be sure, this budget included some difficult decisions. The billions of dollars in one-time federal “stimulus” have evaporated. And local governments must make do with less, though they are aided in part by the cost savings associated with Senate Bill 5 and other labor reforms.

But the overall product is consistent with the message on which many of you campaigned and with the principles that drove voters to the polls in November. Government taxes and spends too much. Over the past decade, Ohio has hemorrhaged population and jobs as a result.

In the latest round of Census reapportionment, Ohio was one of two states to lose more than one Congressional seat. An ATR study found that taxes, spending and labor laws were to blame. Among the 18 states that gained or lost seats after this Census, taxes were more than twice as high and spending 33 percent greater in losing states than in the winners. In order to reclaim lost population and jobs, tax increases need to be taken completely off the table. This is achieved in HB 153.

I strongly urge a yes vote on the budget, noting that the inclusion of Ohio’s estate tax repeal – the most punitive of its kind in the nation – is imperative to attracting investment, jobs and population.

If you have any questions, please contact Ohio state affairs manager Joshua Culling at [email protected].


Grover Norquist

CC: The Honorable John Kasich