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Press Release

    Why Ohio Needs a TEL Amendment

    09/08/2004

    The Ohio secretary of state's recent appeal for a state constitutional amendment to restrict state government spending supports results of a statewide survey among registered voters commissioned earlier this year by The Buckeye Institute.

    Ohioans Support Spending Limits

    The survey indicated strong citizen support for fiscal policy reform that focuses on reducing state spending. For example, 78 percent of those surveyed in February said they would favor a proposal to limit state spending to the rate of inflation. Moreover, voters also preferred cutting spending first, rather than raising taxes, 86 percent to 9 percent, respectively, if the state faces a budget deficit this year. [1]

    The proposed constitutional amendment, which would sharply curtail tax and spending increases by state and local governments, was announced in mid-August by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is also honorary chair of Citizens for Tax Reform. [2]

    If legal language for the proposal is approved by the state's attorney general, the group plans to launch a petition drive in late August. It hopes to place the amendment on the November 2005 ballot. [3]

    Colorado's TEL Success

    The proposed TEL is not a new idea. In 1992, Colorado citizens approved the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, which is considered to be the most stringent example of a U.S. TEL. The state has cut taxes three times since then without severely reducing services - and refunded about $3.2 billion in revenues back to taxpayers. [4] Colorado has added 340,000 new jobs since 1992 and workers' median income has climbed 17.8 percent since 1990, to $48,000 in 2002. Meanwhile, Ohio's income levels have remained virtually stagnant. [5]

    Notes

    [1] Samuel Staley, New Directions for Fiscal Policy in Ohio: Citizen Attitudes Toward Spending and Taxation, The Buckeye Institute, February 2004.

    [2] Lee Leonard, Amendment sought to curb state taxes, spending, The Columbus Dispatch, 18 August 2004. Available at: http://www.dispatch.com/

    [3] Ibid.

    [4] Michael New, Triggering Tax Rebates, Cato Institute, April 2, 2002

    [5] U.S. Census Bureau, "Historical Poverty Tables," Jan. 30, 2004, http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/histpov/hstpov21.html