Issue one: bad for Ohio
Issue One on the November ballot is part of Governor Bob Taft's plan to create jobs in Ohio. That would be a good thing since the recent one-penny sales tax increase destroyed 99,000 jobs according to The Beacon Hill Institute. Unfortunately, Issue One's own supporters say it will not even create one-third the number of jobs lost. Issue One will do more harm than good to Ohio, and its far-reaching implications will shock Ohioans.
by Tom Brinkman, Jr.
November 3, 2003
While there are many reasons to vote NO on Issue One, three stand out.
1) Issue One will tear down a firewall that has existed in the Ohio Constitution since the 1850's, which prohibited the use of public money for private businesses. This provision was put in place after so many of the canal and railroad companies, which the state government invested in, went bankrupt.
Folks, some of the businesses in which the state plans to invest; Bio Tech, Nano Tech, and Advanced Polymers are by their very definition going to fail. They all sound great, but many do not have a market and some may never have a market. When you invest in these cutting edge technologies, you sometimes get cut. Do we really want our money risked in such a manner? Money we (the taxpayers) will borrow through bonds and be obligated to pay back. Isn't that the job of venture capitalists and private investors to take those risks?
Put it this way. Had Issue One passed five years ago, our tax money would have been placed into "Dot Coms". After all, wasn't that the hot trend? Wasn't that where all the capital was flowing? Of course. And thus today, five years later, Ohioan's Issue One investment would be worth half its value with the taxpayers left holding the bag.
Issue One will even give county and local governments the ability to hand over taxpayer money to private businesses. No provisions are in Issue One that requires the money to be paid back or even to create jobs in Ohio.
2) Government's role should be that of a fiduciary and not to make a profit. We set up strict guidelines for our state and county treasurers to follow when investing our money. They are only to invest in risk adverse investments, which will give Ohioans a fair return. Never should they be aiming for a grand slam since home run hitters strike out more often than they hit one out. Even with these guidelines in place, an ENRON or WOLRDCOM sneaks in. Imagine the finger pointing when one of these Issue One ventures goes belly up. The press will have a field day and the citizens might wish to recall why our forefathers prohibited this in the 1850s.
They say that this will not raise taxes, but who is on the hook to pay these bonds back? You, the taxpayers. The payments will come from the state treasury just like payments to schools, mental health institutions, and parks, ect. If the economy lags, what will be cut to make the payments? Will taxes need to be raised to pay the bills? The General Assembly that I have served in has proven all too willing to raise taxes instead of making the hard choices and cut spending. Spending over the past two budgets is up over three times the rate of inflation. Do not believe politicians when they tell you this will not increase taxes, it will.
3) Why in the world would businesses spend $3 million dollars in an advertisement campaign to make you think that Issue One is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Corporate Welfare! The contributors stand to gain millions of dollars of your tax money and they are salivating. Check the facts; 90 percent of the funds awarded for rebuilding Ohio's public schools went to those companies that donated money to pass the 1999 ballot issue. Is there a month that goes by where we do not hear about some government official handing out contracts without bids or in return for favors? Issue One will even be worse since it will allow taxpayer money to flow directly to private businesses.
Issue One is not the solution to Ohio's serious decline. Expert after expert will tell you that the way to revive Ohio's business climate is not to give away tax money to a few well-connected companies. Rather, we need to create a business climate in which all companies can compete on a balanced playing field. The Ohio Revised Code is loaded with business incentives and credits, and it has the high corporate tax rates to foot the bill. Revenue from corporate taxes is half of what it was a decade ago. Special interests, loopholes, and carve outs have knocked the system out of balance. Let's lower business taxes and make EVERYONE pay their fair share. The result will be a fair market for businesses large and small to be able to plan, budget and prosper. Done right, the revenue from a lower but evenly spread corporate tax will increase.
I hate taxes more than anyone in the General Assembly, and have the voting record to prove it. But next to low taxes, fair taxes is a goal we should all strive for.
REJECT Issue One on November 4th. Force Governor Bob Taft and the General Assembly to make the right choice for fairness and equity for all of Ohio's businesses, not just a select privileged few.
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