On Tuesday April 28, during an Ohio primary election that was delayed on account of the pandemic, voters in Toledo, the Buckeye State’s fourth most populous city, rejected Issue 1, a 22% local income tax hike supported by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. More than 55% of the electorate ended up voting No on Issue 1.
Issue 1, had it passed, would’ve raised the local income tax rate from 2.25% to 2.75%. This half a percentage point, 22% rate hike would’ve hit individuals, families, and small businesses at a time when many are struggling to weather the coronavirus-driven downturn.
The Toledo Mayor’s proposed income tax hike was defeated despite the fact that the Yes campaign heavily outspent the tax hike’s opposition. Approximately $165,000 was spent in support of Issue 1, versus $3,000 spent in opposition, most of it by the Lucas County Young Republicans. Americans for Tax Reform also contributed to voter education efforts.
“Toledoans have spoken loudly and clearly: They’re paying close attention to city government, and they are not buying what this administration is selling,” the Lucas County Young Republicans noted in a statement released on election night. “An income tax increase that was sold as a plan to fix the roads was instead a method of enriching special interests with no oversight.”
Some see this outcome in Toledo, located in a county where most voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in 2016, as a bellwether for what to expect from voters later this year. If so, that could be cause for Democrat concern.
That’s because the presumptive Democrat nominee for president, Joe Biden, is running on a proposal entailing trillions of dollars in higher federal taxes, including much higher income tax rates. There are many candidates and officeholders for state and local office who, like Biden, are campaigning on proposals that call for a much higher overall tax burden.
If voters in other cities and states are as disinterested in tax hikes as are voters in Toledo, that spells trouble for Democrats up and down the ballot.
“Taxpayers in Toledo spoke loud and clear on April 28. A tax hike is the last thing that taxpayers and the economy need right now,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“Issue 1 would’ve reduced the job creating capacity of small businesses at a time when most are struggling to stay in existence,” Norquist added. “Toledo voters saved more than their own hard-earned income by rejecting Issue 1. They saved jobs.”