LISBON - State Rep. Nick Barborak and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni both voted against the recently passed state budget for several reasons, the chief being tax changes they say will be benefit richer Ohioans at the expense of others.
"At the heart of the tax-shift scheme that raises taxes on the sales tax, eliminates the state's rollback for new property levies, throws many seniors off of their Homestead (exemption) program, all for the purpose of reducing the income tax, which favors the very wealthy," said Barborak.
The taxes referred to are: an across-the-board reduction in the state income tax and a freezing of tax brackets; an increase in the state sales tax; elimination of the 12.5 percent automatic reduction on all new property levies; and reinstating income requirements for the automatic property tax break granted the elderly and disabled.
Barborak, D-Lisbon, and Schiavoni, D-Boardman, both cited a study funded by Policy Matters Ohio, a group funded largely by organized labor and left-leaning institutions, which determined that Ohioans who earned between $33,000 and $51,000 would get an annual tax cut of $5. Those making more than $335,000 would see their taxes cut by $6,083, and Barborak said the state's poorest 20 percent would actually experience a tax increase.
"Those with lower income will obviously receive less of a cut in income tax than those at the top. However, because they have less disposable income than wealthier individuals, increases in sales and property taxes affect their overall burden more," he said.
Schiavoni agreed, pointing out that a 0.25 percent increase in the state sales tax, while minor, will add up for average-income Ohioans, especially when they go to purchase a new car. The extra cost on a $25,000 vehicle would be $62.50.
"It will nickle and dime all Ohioans ... If you go out and buy a car it's going to cost you a little bit more," he said. "Don't act like it's going to help everyone when it doesn't."
Barborak said increasing the sales tax is just bad policy because "it is regressive, placing a disproportionate burden on those with less income."
He said eliminating the automatic reduction in property taxes on new levies will make life tougher for school districts and other local governments seeking additional revenue. "Now, passing levies will be even more difficult than before," Schiavoni said.
Both said they favored more funding for schools and were upset with the Republican majority's decision to increase vouchers for private schools, which only encourages more students to leave public schools, thereby increasing the financial burden on those schools.
Barborak said he would have like to have seen Gov. John Kasich take a more forceful position in trying to convince the Republican majority to include in the budget his proposed expansion of the Medicaid program.
"When you consider that the studies have shown that it will ultimately save money and create thousands of good-paying jobs and insure 300,000 Ohioans, it sounds like a pretty good deal," he said.
Schiavoni said he also opposed provisions in the budget bill requiring abortion providers to inform pregnant women in writing about the presence of a heartbeat before having the abortion and sending Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for family-planning funding.
Schiavoni opposes making "(pregnant) women jump through more hoops" to get an abortion, adding that Planned Parenthood provides services other than abortion."
In other legislative news, Barborak said he voted in favor a bill outlawing the use of traffic cameras by communities wanting to catch speeding motorists and other offenders, except in school zones.
"There's been some real abuse around the state, but my concern is a constitutional one," he said. Barborak believes allowing tickets to be issued because of a traffic camera violates the alleged offender's right to due process under the law. "You can't question a traffic camera."
The bill comes at a time when the village of Rogers is considering employing traffic cameras. The bill has yet to make its way to the Senate, but Schiavoni has indicated he favors the ban.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.