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  • Nick Bates

Tax Cuts Don’t Work


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In his State of the State speech last week, Gov. John Kasich made this year’s first big promise – the same one we’ve heard since Gov. Bob Taft: Tax cuts will lead to prosperity. Because they haven’t, Ohioans and the newspapers that serve us should examine this path more closely.

Over the years, both parties have reinforced the idea that cutting taxes will bring jobs and economic growth to make up for lost revenue. It’s intoxicating because it would be so great if it worked. We’d all like to get more and pay less.

I’d be surprised if you can find a middle-class Ohioan who knows they got one state income tax cut in the last decade, let alone six. But almost any Cincinnatian can tell you about the pools that don’t get filled in the summer or how college keeps getting more expensive.

Unfortunately, more than just not working, tax cuts cost us all. Adding up the changes since 2005, Ohio is losing over $3 billion every year, yet we’re 48th in the country in job growth for the same period. Much of that money has gone to the wealthiest Ohioans and big corporations, while the basic building blocks that are the foundation of strong communities have been neglected.

City and county budgets were hit, making it harder to provide vital public safety through police officers and firefighters or maintain basic infrastructure like roads and bridges. While we should invest more in education to build a pathway to prosperity for the future, public K-12 schools and higher education funding have been rocky at best.

Businesses and individuals count on policymakers to ensure the common good is protected. In our shortsighted vision, we’re allowing inequality to grow and opportunity to slip away.

The large majority of economic, academic and peer-reviewed literature is in line with what most Ohioans can see and feel: We’re not getting a very good return on our $3 billion investment. Why would more of the same yield different results?

We know we can fight the opiate epidemic, invest in universal pre-K education and get broadband access to every corner of Ohio. But we have to look beyond political promises that have proved dysfunctional. Let’s try a new strategy – let’s invest to make our home state a better place to live for us and for our children.

Op-Ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer on March 6, 2014 written by OON State Director, Gavin DeVore Leonard

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