Local Taxes Up 34% Under Kasich

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Local Taxes Up 34% Under Kasich
Budget Cuts Force Taxpayers to Pass $700m in New Levies;
IO Says Kasich Playing “Shell Game” On Taxes

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new analysis today showing that $670 million in new school operating levies have been passed by Ohio taxpayers between May, 2011 and May, 2014.  The local tax hikes represent a 34% increase over the corresponding 3 year period prior to Kasich’s governorship (May, 2007 – May, 2010.) * Read the analysis here.

According to the IO analysis, there has also been a 13% increase in the number of operating levies for schools on local ballots (with a total value of nearly $1.7 billion) over the past three years. And the think tank calculates that the levies which passed are costing taxpayers nearly $11 million more than they would have previously — thanks to last year’s repeal of the so-called “property tax roll-back” in which the state picked up 12.5% of the cost of local levies. The ballooning number of levies — and their increased cost — are both directly attributable to policies pursued by the Kasich administration and its legislative allies.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland: “Like Christian Bale and Amy Adams in American Hustle — or Paul Newman and Robert Redford before them in the Oscar-winning movie, The Sting — Gov. Kasich and his allies have mastered ‘The Big Con.’ They cast themselves in the roles of ‘budget and tax cutters.’ But in reality, their budget cuts have only put taxpayers on the hook for $700 million in higher local taxes — and left school officials holding the bag and struggling to explain why these tax hikes are necessary. “

Meanwhile, Kasich’s state income tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Ohioans who earn over $300,000 per year. And how did the Governor pay for this give-away to the rich? By repealing the property tax roll-back — which sticks local taxpayers with an even bigger bill.

“Worse yet, the con continues. Right now, higher than projected revenues and lower than projected expenditures have given Ohio a surplus of over $1 billion. But instead of using this money to restore the funds they slashed from schools and local governments, Kasich and his allies are pushing for even more income tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy.

“Ohioans aren’t stupid. They know a shell game when they see one. And sooner or later, they’re going to hold the con men accountable.”

* Operational levies differ from capital improvement levies and bond issues — and the money raised by each can only be spent on items germane to that type of levy. In other words, the money raised through a school operations levy cannot be spent on capital improvements, and vice versa. This is why new operating levies are directly linked to diminished state support for school and local government operations, while capital levies and bond issues generally are not. Nevertheless, the Kasich administration has sought to hide the impact of its budget cuts by disingenuously lumping all 3 levy types together — and then triumphantly proclaiming there has been “no increase” in the overall number of levies on local ballots and, therefore, “no impact” from their budget cuts to schools and local governments. For the reasons outlined above, their argument is fundamentally dishonest.