Aug 31, 2011
Matt Yuskewich, CPA, chair of OSCPA’s Ohio Budget Advisory Task Force, told a roomful of central Ohio business leaders this week that the state’s anticipated $8 billion budget deficit for 2012 – 2013 is going to affect everyone in Ohio.
“The problem is so large that I can’t think of any group or set of taxpayers that will not be affected,” Yuskewich said. “Everybody will have to pony up in some fashion to help put Ohio back on track.”
OSCPA assembled the forum with a panel that included Yuskewich and experts from two community advocacy organizations that have studied the issue and offered their own solutions for addressing Ohio’s financial crisis: the Greater Ohio Policy Center and the Center for Community Solutions.
All three groups agree on one fact — time is running out to solve the next budget crisis and taxpayers will likely see massive budget cuts and tax increases in the near future to help plug the deficit.
But all three panelists also said lawmakers could still bridge partisan lines to take steps after the election that would alleviate the crisis and minimize the effects on Ohioans.
John Begala, executive director of the Center for Community Solutions, said the majority of Ohioans wouldn’t favor a tax increase so the state should look at expanding the revenue base, possibly through sales taxes, to fill part of the gap. In addition, the state could review the numerous tax exemptions and loopholes that add up to approximately $7 billion in potential, uncollected tax revenue annually.
The Columbus forum drew wide support for OSCPA’s efforts to focus public attention on the problem.
Chester Jourdan, Jr., executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission was enthused by the idea of consolidation and shared services outlined in OSCPA’s Budget Advisory Task Force Report.
“The forum was certainly timely and I believe there’s a huge opportunity to explore more efficient and effective delivery of services on a regional level,” Jourdan said. “That could lead to significant cost savings and make Ohio much more competitive.”
OSCPA has taken its position on government reform and streamlining a step further by asking candidates, if elected, how they plan to address the budget issue. Their responses on this and other key issues of importance to CPAs weighed heavily in OSCPA’s endorsement decisions.
There are no easy answers to the problem, but OSCPA is committed to a continued push for budget reform this fall and will advocate aggressively for changes that will lead to a turnaround for Ohio.