Mar 14, 2011

In tough budget times, state leaders need to ask everyone to sacrifice, not just select groups of people

While state leaders have proclaimed loudly over the last few years that they don’t want to raise taxes on all Ohio residents, in reality they have been raising taxes on select groups of individuals such as public employees, people living in poverty, those with legal problems and those with health problems.

• Actions such as forcing state employees to take unpaid days off of work, increasing insurance payments and reducing pay are basically just taxes on state employees to raise money for the government.

• Actions such as reducing funding for social service programs so that emergency assistance programs for people living in poverty are reduced or eliminated are basically just taxes on poor people, taking away their funding in order to provide more for the government.

• Actions such as making the poor pay application fees for free public legal services, forcing prisoners to pay fees to fund the legal system and forcing ex-offenders to pay fees to the parole offices are all taxes on people who have gotten into legal trouble. The majority of these people are poor, and the state is taking money away from them to fund government programs.

• Actions such as initiatives to reduce the number of people eligible for Medicaid are taxes on people with health problems, forcing them to go into debt or become bankrupt because of medical bills they will never be able to pay off.

• Actions such as reducing funding for mental health services as well as drug and alcohol addiction services are taxes on people facing mental health and addiction issues. These people are in desperate need of help and often have very little way to pay for the counseling or medications they need. The state has taken funding away from them to pay for other programs.

State leaders have made countless other actions in recent years, all while claiming that they are not raising taxes and these changes have mainly hurt the poor. At the same time, the state has reduced the income tax rates, which has mainly helped the rich. Wealthy Ohioans have benefited greatly in the past few years, and the gap between the rich and the poor has grown larger than ever.

State leaders need to eliminate the income tax reductions, and stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of a few select groups of people.

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