by Michael Cook
(Plain Press, May 2011) Advocates for Budget Legislation Equality, or ABLE, is a community group that has informed community members on the state budget process and proposals that will negatively impact them, and empowered them to add their voice the state budget policy decision making process. This year, facing an $8 billion deficit in the state’s biennium budget, Gov. John Kasich has submitted a budget which proposes to slash funding for programs and services for Ohio’s poor, vulnerable, seniors, and youth rather than increase revenue to maintain these vital services. This includes massive cuts to education funding, police and firefighter funding, mental health funding, senior services funding, and many smaller programs like Kinship Care, which was completely eliminated.
How could the Governor and our state legislators solve the revenue crisis in the state budget?
First, the economy is bouncing back and it looks like the deficit will be closer to $5.5 billion. Second, the state will also choose not to collect over $14 billion in taxes it should be collecting during the next budget cycle, instead they are choosing to give them away in the form of tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest Ohioans.
Some of these loopholes include a cap on sales tax for buying private jet timeshares, or a loophole for banks which exceeds the corporate taxes paid, one for elective plastic surgery, and one which exempts people hiring lobbyists from paying sales tax on their services. ABLE strongly argues that our elected officials need to review and repeal the most inefficient and inequitable of these loopholes. If they do this, they are not raising taxes, but collecting taxes, which should be collected in order to fund vital services for Ohioans.
ABLE needs you, the citizens of Ohio, to stand up, and have your voice be heard on this vital issue. We need you to call your state Senators, and tell them to fight for a moral and fair state budget which protects and strengthens our state and our citizens. You need to tell them to choose the people of Ohio over tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest Ohioans.
To take action, you can call the local state office number, at 216-787-3000 and ask to be connected to your state Senator. State senators in the areas served by the Plain Press are Shirley Smith (D-21), and Mike Skindell (D-23). Both are members of the Finance Committee. You can also join ABLE’s fight for a moral and fair state budget by calling Michael Cook at 216-771-5077 x136 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Michael Cook is a community organizer for Merrick House.