Another Stroke of Genius by the Politically Correct Crowd
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Now, we all know that the incompetents in “The Land of Broken Toys,” Columbus, and the imbeciles we call our elected “leaders” couldn’t even roll pennies in a penny-roll properly, much less manage a multi billion dollar budget. Therefore, I find it sad yet amusing that they’re scratching their collective empty heads wondering just where the hell all the tobacco tax revenue went. How about the stroke of politically correct genius of no longer permitting 50 thousand Ohio prison inmates purchase tobacco! Yea, THERE’S a nifty idea! Let us all applaud this masterful move – yes, you too can lose your job because people who couldn’t hack it working IN a prison now call the shots.
Tobacco tax shortfall to put state budget out of whack
Bill Kennedy/The Plain Dealer
The latest headache for state lawmakers — a $129 million shortfall expected in future state tobacco revenues because of a federal 62-cents-a-pack tax, which is expected to have Ohioans puffing less. Because House Democrats leaned on a rosy tobacco tax projection from the Legislative Service Commission that didn’t factor in the expected loss, the plan they passed Wednesday was most likely out-of-whack upon arrival in the Senate this week.
And that’s only one of the problems facing bean counters, with House lawmakers in both parties now admitting that another shortfall seems inevitable at the end of the state budget trail.
Budget-watchers expect that revenue estimates for 2010 and 2011 — which were plugged in to “balance” the next state budget months ago — were too optimistic for Ohio’s falling income and sales tax revenue, acknowledged Rep. Michael Skindell, a Lakewood Democrat on the Finance Committee.
That will mean a sizable hole to plug — as much as a $600 million or $700 million shortfall isn’t crazy talk — when a conference committee meets to hash out differences between the Senate and House versions, the last step before the budget is handed to Gov. Ted Strickland in June.
“They are going to have a loss at the end of this budget cycle,” said Rep. Bill Batchelder, a veteran Medina lawmaker who heads the House Republican caucus. “Without question, they are going to have to come in the last part of the conference committee and say, ‘We don’t have the money that was projected,’ and that gets dicey.”
House Speaker Armond Budish, a Beachwood Democrat, said he realizes the numbers could be too high, but Democrats went forward with the best information they had at the time. The numbers they used from the Legislative Service Commission gave them $377 million more to play with than the numbers Team Strickland used in its budget proposal.
“Projections change along the way. We have to set a time and deal with the projections we have at that time and do a budget, because you can’t constantly change the budget or it never gets done,” Budish said.
Strickland told reporters this week that he didn’t mind the revenue cherry-picking by his own party. “I think because they are estimates, it is legitimate to use either,” he said. “I don’t think there is any way to know for sure which is more accurate because we are living in a fluid, dynamic economic set of circumstances.”
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