At least the Senate can save Ohioans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Tribune staff

Congratulations to the Ohio House of Representatives. They have managed to send the Senate a budget bill that would ask voters to chose between two things they do not want -- a tax increase or expanded gambling.

The House bill, which passed 53-46 last week, imposes a temporary 1-cent sales tax for the next two years. If voters opt to allow the state to put

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slot machines at race tracks in November's general election, the sales tax hike will disappear. At the least, we feel lawmakers are packaging two unrelated items that should be voted on separately.

Ohio voters already have made it clear that they want neither gambling nor tax increases. Why is it so hard for our representatives to understand this?

To continually raise taxes will further burden the economy. With higher sales taxes, consumers will buy less which will, consequently, result in even lower tax receipts. If and when this happens, lawmakers will be looking to raise taxes again.

Gambling is another option that should not be considered. More times than not, it takes money from those who can least afford it. It is also impossible to judge how much money it will generate, despite of all the predictions.

Fortunately, the Senate still has to vote on the proposal. With a little luck, the entire bill will be thrown out or, at the least, rewritten. We are hopeful the Senate will come up with a proposal that is a little more reasonable.

We believe that the only logical way to balance the state's budget is to cut spending. Yes, some vital services the state offers would have to be scaled back or eliminated, but at least it would not jeopardize the economy. What our lawmakers really need to do is to find a smarter way of providing services at a minimal cost and with minimal cuts.

Even though the tax increase is labeled as "temporary," we find it hard to believe it will go away any time soon. Lawmakers know gambling issues have twice been soundly defeated by voters and, unless the economy picks up rapidly, those missing dollars that have caused the budget to be in the shape that it is in are not going to magically reappear.