Jason Hoffman reports:
Local officials voiced concern over cuts to local-government funding to members of the Ohio House of Representatives Tax Reform Legislative Study Committee Wednesday at the University of Cincinnati East campus.
Embattled State Rep. Peter Beck (R-Mason) and five other members of the newly formed committee sought input on future changes to state’s tax code as part of a five-stop hearing process.
Beck, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee who currently faces a 16-count felony indictment for securities fraud and theft, refused to comment on the charges he faces and calls for his resignation from the state legislature.
“I thought the hearing was very informative as we heard from a lot of business representatives and local officials,” Beck said. “We can now be more methodical in our review as we make changes with local input.”
The committee heard testimony from a variety of county, city and township representatives as well as members of the state’s Department of Taxation and Office of Budget and Management.
Main points of contention at the meeting were whether cutting taxes for business actually increases jobs in Ohio and how local governments can better provide services through cross-border collaboration.
State Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said he is proud of the accomplishments under Gov. John Kasich. Ohio, Testa said, has balanced its budget, restored a rainy-day fund, eliminated the estate tax and replaced the corporate-franchise tax – all goals the governor had when taking office.
Achieving those goals came with a reduction in tax revenue local governments receive, making it more difficult for municipalities to provide services, said Joe Honerlaw, Springfield Township trustee.
“These revenue reductions, as a result of the policy decisions made by our state legislators, has eliminated approximately 50 percent of our township’s General Revenue Fund,” Honerlaw said. “ For us … simply expanding our our collaboration efforts to solve these devastating funding cuts is not the answer.”
The committee next visits Bowling Green City Council Chambers Sept. 3.