Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Rep. Combs on Ohio Dems Tax Increase

COLUMBUS— State Representative Courtney Combs (R- Hamilton) today opposed the Ohio House of Representatives’ passage of House Bill 318, which would suspend the last installment of the income tax reductions set forth in 2005.

Under current law, state income tax rates are to be reduced by a total of 21 percent over a five-year period, according to House Bill 66 of the 126th General Assembly. Governor Strickland and House Democrats have supported a freeze of the tax reforms, which would retroactively increase the tax burden on Ohio’s families by 4.2 percent in 2009.

“It is sad to say, I knew this day was coming when Governor Strickland and the House Democrats put forth an unbalanced budget last July,” said Combs. “House Republicans have put forth a number of measures to reduce government spending and the Democrats refuse to hear them.”

In addition, House Bill 318 would reduce the salaries of state legislators by 5 percent, a proposal initially championed by Representatives Seth Morgan (R-Huber Heights) and Terry Boose (R-Norwalk) in June of this year. The salary reductions would be effective starting in 2011, as permitted by the Ohio Constitution.

House Bill 318 was initiated to fill an $851 million budget deficit caused by the failure of the video lottery terminals (VLT) provision included in July’s biennial budget. House Republicans have expressed concern that the bill imposes a higher tax burden and continues the expansion of government without providing for any cost-efficiency measures.

In an effort to provide sustainable changes to fill the budget deficit, House Republicans proposed amendments to House Bill 318 on the House floor that would streamline government agencies and consolidate spending; minimize waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system; remove the provision that calls for a tax increase; allow local school boards to decide whether or not to accept unfunded state mandates; create a committee to maximize hospital employment and sustainability; prevent taxpayers from being retroactively penalized by a state income tax increase; and reduce bonuses for House committee vice-chairs and ranking members. These suggestions were rejected by House Democrats.

“Now is not the time to put a tax increase on the backs of Ohio’s families,” said Combs. “Government spending is out of control and government must learn to live within its means.”

House Bill 318 passed from the House by a 55-44 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.