Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blair: Spending is Government’s Burden!

COLUMBUS—[On December 11th], State Rep. Terry Blair []introduced legislation that would put an end to the ever-growing financial waistline of the state of Ohio, tying the state’s budget to actual General Revenue Fund receipts for the previous two years.

“Since 1997, the growth of Ohio’s state government, as measured by its spending, has exceeded Ohio’s economic growth as measured by our state’s Gross Domestic Private Product,” Blair said. “To continue on this unsustainable course will lead to further troubles for the state, and it’s time the state became responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars.”

The proposed legislation would prohibit the governor from proposing and the General Assembly from enacting a budget that would exceed 97 percent of General Revenue Fund receipts from the previous two years. Furthermore, the legislation would put a stop to raiding the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day” fund, by capping the amount that can be transferred to the GRF at 25 percent. The budget passed by the General Assembly in July drained the state’s rainy day fund of nearly $1 billion to help balance the state budget.

During the summer budget process, numerous estimates were given and then revised in an attempt to give legislators an idea of budgeting levels. Ohio is now faced with a budget shortfall of nearly $851 million, after Governor Strickland’s risky reliance on revenues from VLTs at racetracks was walloped by a Supreme Court decision this fall.

“We all witnessed how state government was stymied in its budgeting process as revenue forecasts were being revised downward nearly every week,” Blair said. “The present budget methodology simply does not encourage the necessary discipline to review and prioritize spending, but rather leads the government to focus on revenue by looking for new ways to tax the citizens of Ohio. The time is right to focus on spending.”

Currently, Governor Strickland’s only solution has been a retroactive tax increase, delaying the final two years of a 21 percent reduction of the state’s income tax in House Bill 318.