Kasich's Budget Especially Disastrous for Northeast Ohio
As I've had more time to reflect on the trainwreck that is the proposed Kasich budget, it's becoming clear how many ways it's horrific for the Greater Cleveland area.
I tried to stay out of the whole Cleveland school levy debacle last year because I had so many friends who were so ardently supporting it and I felt like the entire thing was a scam. I figured I'd just keep my mouth shut because I'm not a Cleveland taxpayer.
The business community and foundations came up with the so-called "Cleveland Plan" which was a combination of a wish list of wonderful things and some stuff intended to beat up on the teachers union. The Cleveland Plan was intended as a sales tool for a massive 15-mil levy, which fell heaviest on the type of poorer Clevelanders who inherited an old house from their grandparents. Much of the city's new "luxury" housing is tax-abated, as are the big, fancy downtown projects from stadiums to the new Medical Mart. The plan, like too much in Cleveland, was crafted behind closed doors with no input from teachers, principals, parents, students, or the community members expected to pay for it.
Mayor Frank Jackson touted the endorsement of Governor Taxin' John Kasich as proof that the plan was all wonderful and bipartisan-y and blah blah blah.
What he didn't say was that the money raised by the levy would mostly go to fill the hole created by the cuts to the schools in Kasich's last budget. All that wonderful new stuff? Pfffft. It's unlikely to happen because .... the school funding formula in Kasich's new budget, supposedly intended to provide more for poor school districts like Cleveland's, give it one penny more.
Read all about that here:
Then there's the turnpike bonding, which loads the turnpike with debt to fund road construction projects .... somewhere. Kasich made a lot of promises: that most of the money would be kept in northern Ohio (but it was suggested by some that they could pull the same trick they did to education with the state lottery — take away a dollar in general fund money for each dollar of "new" money), that tolls wouldn't be raised (no idea how they would pay for the bonds then), that no turnpike employees would be laid of.
None of that is written into the budget, which means promises will be broken.
Since a toll road is a business cost and hence an economic burden to a region, it creates an unlevel economic playing field if northern Ohio has a toll road but the road through central Ohio is free. So either 100% of the money should be kept in northern Ohio. Or toll your own damned road — I-70 — if you want to build shit in central Ohio. OK? as Kasich would say.
But there's more! Yup, there's always more economic ruin when Kasich is in the room. As has widely been discussed, Kasich's budget expands the sales tax to a broad range of new services. That includes admissions to cultural, sports and other events.
In the last year and a half, there has been a lot of discussion and argument around an admissions tax levied on everything from small clubs to stadium sports events. The controversy in particular swirled around the smaller music clubs which felt the tax made them uncompetitive with other cities in the regional with no such tax (most Ohio cities) or a much smaller one, like Cleveland Heights' three percent (Cleveland's was a whopping eight percent).
People arguing that the tax was fair and similar to taxes in other big cities often pointed to the fact that some cities levied a sales tax on tickets and admissions.
Now Cleveland clubs will have a tax piled on top of a tax! While the clubs were finally able to negotiate a reduction in the entertainment tax from eight to four percent, the new sales tax would claw back all of that — and more. It would leave them paying nearly ten percent on admissions. This is bound to have an impact on the number of artists coming through Cleveland.
Bob Bennett and the state GOP are trying to push the theme that Ohio Democrats are "job killers" because they don't support Kasich's ill-conceived, unproven and possibly unconstitutional "JobsOhio" scheme.
Bob, I've got your "job killer" right here: