Rep. Jack Cera wary of proposed Ohio budget

Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire

COLUMBUS — The lead Democratic legislator on the state’s budget and finance panel, Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, believes Gov. John Kasich’s tax approach in his proposed state operating budget will shift more of the burden to the middle class and working families.

Kasich revealed his recommendation for the fiscal year 2018-19 budget on Monday, saying that his executive budget will begin “with conservative, responsible priorities that work to hold down the growth of state spending in ways that make government leaner, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of citizens.”

Kasich has proposed a 17-percent cut in the income tax by reducing the number of tax brackets and reforming the tax code. Kasich went on to say his proposed income tax cuts will make Ohio more competitive, and more “friendly” to job creators and entrepreneurs.

According to published reports, Kasich would pay for programs through increased consumption taxes on alcohol and tobacco, as well as increased taxes on the oil and gas industry. He would also increase the state sales tax by a half-percent, making it 6.25 percent.

Cera said he believes cutting income taxes and raising consumption taxes mainly benefits the wealthy and hurts those in lower income brackets.

“The tax shifting in the proposed state budget represents a failed plan from the past, not one for the future,” Cera said. “Trickle-down promises of the last six years haven’t come true, and it’s dangerous to expect they will by shifting even more taxes onto working people. As our nation grows and realizes new opportunities since the recession, Ohioans have been running in place instead of getting ahead. We don’t just need to bring Ohio back from the recession — we need to make Ohio first in growth and opportunity.”

Cera said he is especially concerned about the governor’s proposals on the state sales tax, school funding and the Medicaid managed care tax solution, but conceded there may be positive aspects to the governor’s budget as well.

Now that the Ohio House has received the governor’s budget proposal, the Finance Committee and other subcommittees will consider the proposal, revise the budget as they see fit, and then send a bill to the Ohio Senate for further review.

“As legislators, it is important that we deliberate on the needs of Ohioans and deliver funding where it is not only necessary, but sensible, (and) we also keep in mind that at the end of the day we are responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ money. When the Senate finishes its work, leaders from both chambers come together in conference to reconcile differences in the bills and to pass the final, agreed upon version,” Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said in a statement.

The Ohio General Assembly usually will have a budget bill ready in June. The governor can then sign the legislation, and may veto parts of the bill with which he disagrees.

Cera expressed his disapproval on the overall philosophy of Republicans in the General Assembly and the governor with past budgets.

“Ideology and belief has been our biggest obstacle to economic growth and job creation in Ohio,” Cera said. “The Republican majorities and governor continue to govern based on a flawed belief that working and middle-class people can afford to shoulder a larger share of funding necessities like schools, police officers, roads and safe drinking water. We can’t continue down the same path expecting things will change. We have to work together to create a clear path to the middle class, and that starts with a new way forward that rebalances taxes and reinvests in schools and communities.”