The Columbus Dispatch has a budget simulator, which can help you decide where you would find the $8 billion Ohio needs to balance its fiscal 2012-13 budget. It consists of 34 multiple-choice questions. The selections you make generate the "headlines" shown.
My values were:
- Do not increase tax rates, but make existing taxes more consistent in their application.
- Make cuts across the board to spread the pain as evenly as possible. (Note that I just proposed cutting my own salary by 3%) ...
- Pay for everything now, not delaying it until later by infusion of one-time funds.
Of course, a budget simulator has its limitations -- in reality, I could have fine-tuned the surplus to a smaller amount by reducing tax increases or spending cuts by lesser amounts. The value of the simulator is to show just how politically and morally difficult it is to make these kinds of decisions. I particularly hated the "drug tax," but thought its economic impact would be less harmful than directly increasing the income or sales tax.
On the long run, I favor abolition of the income tax, a simpler property tax that taxes only the unimproved value of property, and working out a gradual program of reducing and redirecting state services and entitlements to minimize (but of course, not eliminate) the pain to individuals.
Tomorrow's "news," from The Columbus Dispatch budget simulator -- if I were Governor:
Governor's budget plan more than erases deficit
Thomas surplus called 'painful, needless burden'
The governor today gave the General Assembly a proposed state budget with a surplus of $43 million.
The plan brought immediate objections from lawmakers and a host of interest groups, especially those representing taxpayers, who excoriated the governor for seeking to raise a surplus 'during the worst recession in two generations.'
Tomorrow's headlines if Harold Thomas were governor:
- Poor and sick decry 'drug tax' at huge Columbus rally
- Lawmakers heed loud tax protests from Ohio families
- Thomas ripped for 'robbing' local governments
'Staggering' new local taxes predicted
- Medicaid cuts called 'brutal' to Ohio's poor
- Business tax hike will 'strangle' growth, critics claim
- Homeowners vow to defeat Thomas
- Disabled veterans brandish crutches, canes at Governor's Residence
- Property tax subsidy: Reduce subsidy by 5% (raises $170 million)
- Commercial activities tax: End exemption for first $1 million in sales (raises $250 million)
- Exemptions: End sales-tax break for packaging and packaging equipment (raises $460 million)
- Exemptions: Apply sales tax to prescription drugs (raises $1.3 billion)
- Exemptions: Cut income-tax deductions for spouse and children by half (raises $500 million)
- Aid to K-12 education: Halve aid that makes up for elimination of tangible personal property tax (saves $1.1 billion)
- Aid to colleges & universities: Cut aid by 10% (saves $340 million)
- Aid to cities & towns: Halve aid that makes up for elimination of tangible personal property tax (saves $380 million)
- Aid to libraries: Cut aid by 25% (saves $190 million)
- Spending on adult and youth prisons: Cut spending by 25% (saves $900 million)
- Medicaid: End optional coverage for dental, vision, podiatry and hospice (saves $1 billion)
- Medicaid: Cut spending for nursing-home care by 5% (saves $260 million)
- Medicaid: Cut spending for hospital care by 5% (saves $110 million)
- State employees: Cut pay by 3% (saves $200 million)
- Department of Mental Health: Cut by 20% (saves $180 million)
- Close other state departments: Developmental Disabilities (saves $634 million)
- Close other state departments: Veterans Services (saves $64 million)
- Allow oil and gas drilling on state land (raises $25 million)
Sell or lease state assets
To which can be added:
- State employee unions excoriate governor for salary cuts
- House Democrats call for impeachment proceedings against Libertarian Governor.