|Highlights||April 22, 2004|
Tax repeal could cost universities millions
By KC McKenna
Amongst the budget issues facing Cleveland State University (the elimination of the hold harmless provision and funding lost to the Research Incentive), The Citizens for Tax Repeal, a group determined to eliminate the 1 percent sales tax increase imposed on Ohioans last year, could cost universities in Ohio millions in budget allocations in the next year.
The group, led by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, suggests that spending in Ohio is out of control, and a repeal of the tax will put government spending back on track.
The maximum consequence that Cleveland State would face from the tax repeal would be $6.7 million, or nearly 10 percent of the subsidy that the university receives from the state.
As hard as Blackwell’s group is fighting for the repeal of the tax, an interest group, The Campaign to Protect Ohio’s Future is determined to end the effort for repeal.
Not only will Ohio’s universities lose millions, but according to the group, programs like Medicaid for low-income, working parents, 14 million meals delivered through food banks, child care and Head Start programs, and mental health care will all lose the necessary funding provided by the state to survive.
When the sales tax increase was implemented last year it created an 11 percent increase in the state’s budget, and according the Citizens For Tax Repeal Web site (www.repeal-thetax.com), with the help of the tax increase the state’s spending has grown more than 70 percent in the last 10 years; more than any other state in the nation and double that of inflation.
If the bill for the repeal of the sales tax, which is scheduled to expire in 2005, is introduced on the floor of the Ohio legislature, Citizens for Tax Repeal will have four months to pass the measure.
If the repeal fails to pass through the legislature in the allotted time, Blackwell’s group will have to collect 97,000 signatures to put the bill on the November 2004 ballot.
According to report filed by the Federation for Community Planning, an early repeal of the tax would cost the state $813.8 million, and if applied across the board, 93 percent of the cuts would come from the Department of Education, The Ohio Board of Regents, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and Youth Services.
With across the board cuts, The Ohio Board of Regent would lose 6.1 percent of its budget or $120.2 million. Those cuts would be absorbed by all of Ohio’s public colleges and universities.
The Federation of Community Planning’s Report also noted that cuts could also have an effect on public safety, especially in Ohio’s villages and townships that receive much of the funding for public safety programs from state tax dollars.
According to a poll conducted by the American Association for Retired Persons, 80 percent of Ohio voters are willing to pay more tax to maintain the level of human service funding now provided by the state.
Human service funding includes the area of rehabilitation and corrections, mental health, and job and family services.
Efforts to repeal the tax have stalled as of late with Blackwell’s group falling more than 2,000 signatures short of getting the issue on the ballot. The next step for the group is an attempt to have the bill introduced on the floor of the legislature, or recollect the 97,000 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot for the 2004 election.
© 2004 The Cleveland Stater
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