Ohio House approves delaying state tax cut


COLUMBUS — Warning that a budget tidal wave is on the way, two House Republicans Wednesday broke with their party to support a temporary rollback of an income-tax cut promised to Ohioans four years ago. "If we can find a way to rise above politics, perhaps we can rise above the storm,’’ said Rep. Matt Dolan (R., Novelty) as he joined all Democrats in voting to delay for two years the last 4.2 percent increment of a total 21 percent, five-year personal income tax cut paid by individuals and many small businesses.

The bill passed the chamber 55-44 and now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate. The measure would also cut the pay of state representatives and senators by 5 percent.

Many of Mr. Dolan’s Republican colleagues argued that postponement of a tax cut already showing up in Ohioans’ paychecks because of reduced withholding rates is a tax increase.

"Ohioans are being nickeled and dimed to death,’’ said Rep. Kris Jordan (R., Delaware). "To tell Ohioans that we’re going to go into their wallets one more time is criminal.’’

Democrats, who hold tenuous control of the chamber, argued that delaying a planned tax cut before Ohioans’ final tax responsibility is settled with the filing of their returns next spring is a tax freeze.

"To delay a tax cut is not a tax hike no matter how many times you say it,’’ Rep. Dan Stewart (D., Columbus) said.

The rollback of the 2009 income-tax cut to 2008 levels is expected to generate $844 million over two years to help fill an $851 million hole in the education budget. The gap was created when the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that Mr. Strickland and lawmakers could not sidestep a vote of the people by using the recently enacted budget to authorize and tax slot machines at racetracks.

For a typical family of four earning $60,000 a year, the tax cut for 2009 would essentially shrink from an anticipated $85 a year to $7. The $7 savings would be due to an automatic inflation-adjusted increase in the personal exemption that would not be interrupted.

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