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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

State budget tax policy changes were rushed

It might be a couple weeks before we truly understand everything in the state budget that must be signed by Gov. John Kasich by Monday.

Some Republican legislators touted a 10 percent income tax and a 50 percent tax cut small businesses on the first $250,000 of net business income that was presented for the governor’s approval.

That’s good news for a lot of people, but there are some items in the budget that might dampen that enthusiasm.

For example, people who are 65 and older and/or permanently disabled and who don’t currently qualify for the Homestead Exemption for their property taxes would now face an income requirement to qualify in the future.

As part of the bill approved by the conference committee, property owners would need to earn less than $30,000 or the exemption that provides a shield on the first $25,000 of property valuation would be eliminated.

People who currently received the Homestead Exemption would be grandfathered, but it they were to move or to sell the property the exemption would not follow them.

Also, the budget would likely make it more difficult for schools and communities to pass new levies because a 10 tax reduction (also known as a rollback) for all property owners along with the 2.5 percent reduction for owner-occupied homes that the state currently provides would no longer be in place starting with the Nov. 5 election.

That means even with the same millage in place on new levies, taxpayers would essentially pay 12.5 percent more property tax due to the state change.

Local officials aren’t completely sure yet if the language applies to renewal or replacement levies that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot and future elections.

For people who don’t earn much income, such as seniors and/or low-income households, the elimination of this property tax credit could be significant.

The budget proposal also contained a 0.25 percent increase in the state’s sales tax, so items that people buy will cost a little bit more.

When calculating these changes, the new tax policies could actually offset or cost many taxpayers more money overall then what they would receive through the 10 percent income tax reduction.

Regardless of one’s position on these potential changes, a beef I have is that these policy changes were brought to the table on Wednesday just as the Ohio General Conference Committee was putting together a final version for the governor to sign.

They weren’t part of the bill when the measure was under debate and discussion in the Ohio House of Representatives of Ohio Senate.

It’s possible after this column goes to press that the governor could have signed the bill and potentially vetoed some or all of these changes, but it’s the process I really question.

Important tax policy changes like these that will have significant impact on Ohio residents and they were not discussed in committee hearings where there is public input and there was little time for debate or analysis by a broader group of people.

I understand the state budget is always a work in progress until it is passed, but changes of this magnitude shouldn’t be rushed through without the proper public process.

State lawmakers should do better.

Kasich’s popularity

It was not that long ago that Kasich was one of the least popular governors in the country.

But a new poll released last week suggests the governor now enjoys his best approval rating yet.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Kasich enjoys a 54-32 percent job approval.

He also increased his lead to 47-33 percent over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the likely Democratic challenger in the 2014 governor’s race.

Kasich also got a national writeup Thursday in Politico that suggested he could be a possible presidential candidate should he win re-election.


Willoughby Hills Councilman David Fiebig hosts a free All American Family Picnic including a special guest from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at Campbell Park in Willoughby Hills.


Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski hosts his ninth annual golf outing, 8:30 a.m. shotgun start July 19 at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Wickliffe. See Andrzejewski.

Mentor on the Lake Councilwoman Desirea Thompson hosts a spaghetti dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Amvets Post 109 in Mentor on the Lake. See Desirea or John Thompson.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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