May 8, 2003

Community Press

Dear Editor:

In the May 7, 2003 edition, Senate President Doug White discussed Ohio's budget crisis. He correctly outlined six steps for balancing a budget.

Governor Taft and the Ohio House of Representatives have a different idea: Increase spending by ten percent and then try to figure out a way to pay for it. They want to impose a so-called "temporary" one-cent sales tax and provide us with some additional rope to hang ourselves with at the racetrack. I'm referring to Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs).

(If VLTs become a reality, I wonder if the Ohio House factored in additional expenses for the increased crime and the degradation of families that always accompanies gambling?)

Senator White also discussed the positions of competing interests. He mentioned those who desire state sponsored services versus the taxpayers who are forced to pay for them.

I've met with Senator White. He's a good man and I'm confident that he'll find the right balance between these two broad groups.

Ohio's poor are among those that desire state sponsored services. Let's explore an idea that could satisfy their needs without making taxpayers poor.

I expect that Senator White would probably agree that the sources for helping the poor should be in the following sequence:

  1. Self
  2. Family
  3. Church
  4. Charitable organizations such as the multitude of United Way supported groups
  5. Local Government (city, township, and/or county)
  6. State Government

(Note that I did not mention the Federal Government.)

What if the state offered income tax credits (similar to the $50/$100 Ohio Political Contribution Credit) in exchange for donations directly to charitable organizations such as the multitude of United Way supported groups?

A wide range of possibilities exists. The credit does not necessarily have to be dollar-for-dollar up to some limit. The benefits of this proposal are multiple:

  1. The state cuts spending
  2. The state cuts taxes (via the credit)
  3. Ohio's needy get the needed help
  4. Ohio's taxpayers get to choose which organizations to fund (if any). This one has a psychological impact: I'd rather know that I'm making donations that directly help people rather than sending tax dollars off to the abyss we call government. Furthermore, donations are voluntary; taxes are not.
  5. Efficiency will be enhanced because money will flow directly from the taxpayer to the charitable organization. The state bureaucracy will be out of the loop therefore minimizing administrative expenses and the potential for fraud and abuse. (Note that the state bureaucracy is one of those groups who want to maximize government spending.)

I strongly disagree with Governor Taft and the Ohio House of Representatives' decision to increase state spending and increase taxes. Furthermore, I detest the idea of having to vote on (VLTs) as if it's an either/or proposition. This is a lose-lose situation for Ohio's families.

Does anybody else have any ideas on how to shift the burden of the poor away from government?


John E. Becker