Entering the budget process at the beginning of the year, it was important to me that the final version be something that would further foster the economic growth and momentum that Ohio has initiated over the previous three years. During that time, our state has experienced the creation of 170,000 private sector jobs and the state’s unemployment rate has dropped steadily from nearly 11.0 percent to 7.0 percent, well below the national average.
Government is not directly responsible for creating those jobs. Innovative entrepreneurs and hard-working people trying to provide for their families are the ones who make our state prosper. My commitment, quite simply, is to support policies that will make it easier for these kinds of individuals to find work and keep more of their own money, and for more business, big and small, to see Ohio as a land of opportunity. That is exactly what this budget accomplishes.
Over the course of three years, all Ohio workers and small businesses will experience a net income tax cut totaling more than $2.7 billion. With increased job creation and greater tax receipts coming into the state, it only makes sense to give money back to the people who have earned it.
On the issue of taxes, there has been concern raised about the increase in state sales tax, which adds 25 cents to every $100 spent. Placing so much emphasis on what people earn achieves the wrong purpose because it essentially punishes hard work. But by moving towards a system that taxes what people consume, rather than what they earn, people still have the same incentive to work hard and have more control over how much tax they pay. The states that are prospering in our country tend to place more emphasis on taxing consumption (sales) rather than income. This budget continues that, and we still have cost drivers that must be dealt with, including Medicaid, Obamacare, and unfunded mandates in education and other areas.
Now, more jobs are being created, more people are back to work, and as a result more money is available for critical services like education, healthcare, and transportation infrastructure. The 2011 budget paved the way for future prosperity. The 2013 budget helps move Ohio further towards that direction. But by no means have we completely accomplished our goals of further reducing income taxes, shrinking the size and scope of government, and lessening the burdens on the citizens of our state. There is still more work to be done.