$9 a year or adequately fund education

Following up on our piece last week, where we pointed out that the Governor and his legislative allies would better serve Ohio by investing Midicaid savings in education, rather than more fruitless tax cuts, Ohio E&A had this to say

Senate Bill 210 would provide for a permanent income tax rate reduction of 4% for all tax brackets beginning in 2014. This bill would revise Section 5747.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.

This bill is in response to the Controlling Board's approval of the Medicaid expansion which freed up in the range of $400 million from unbudgeted savings in the state's biennial budget (HB 59). It is estimated that Senate Bill 210 would save $9 for the average income taxpayer.

During sponsor testimony, the bill's lead sponsor responded to an inquiry from a committee member about using the funds to restore cuts to local governments or education priorities. The sponsor responded that $400 million divided by 613 districts would have a minimal impact.

$400 million distributed on a per pupil basis would compute to about $230.00. If this amount would be distributed on an equalized basis, some districts would receive a very substantial per pupil increase. That amount applied to funding the Third Grade Guarantee would help alleviate some of the angst among local school officials. Other possible uses are:

Early childhood education
School bus purchase
Transportation operation
Unfunded and underfunded mandates
Scores of other programs and services

Legislators should be reminded that the state income tax law (Section 5747.02) in part states: "(A) For the purpose of providing revenue for the support of schools and local government functions..."

The state income tax was initiated in 1972 to increase state support for schools and other state government functions. The current legislative trend is to shift the fiscal responsibilities of public education to boards of education and other services to local officials.

Senate Bill 210 is being promoted as a measure to make Ohio more attractive and job-friendly. An additional $400 million invested in the public common school system would pay greater dividends than a tax cut.

Why would anyone want to continue to underfund public education for the sake of saving $9 a year for a typical tax payer? The choice seems simple.