Greg Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, is taking his message of sustainability to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, which is currently hearing testimony on its version of the state’s biennial budget.
As The Ohio Star previously reported, Lawson has been urging lawmakers all session to avoid “missteps” in the budget “that could lead to a disastrous recession.”
Ohio Senate leaders unveiled their version of the biennial budget last week. The Senate proposal includes $300 million in annual tax cuts and an eight percent income tax cut for two years, according to Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina).
In his testimony before the Senate Finance Committee Monday, Lawson applauded the improvements made to the budget, but warned that “the Senate’s proposed budget remains too large [and] too unsustainable to weather anything other than the sunniest economic conditions.”
According to Lawson, the Senate’s version of the budget actually “outspends the House version by more than $205 million.”
“As I said when I testified before the House Finance Committee, this budget arrives during an economic expansion of historic duration,” Lawson said. “Indeed, should the current economic growth persist until July, it will be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Now is the time to pursue meaningful, sustainable reform and take full advantage of this opportunity to make Ohio more prosperous, while avoiding missteps that could lead to greater pain during any downturn in the economy.”
He noted that while current tax receipts are meeting the Office of Budget and Management’s projections and “outpacing last year’s revenues,” such “prosperity cannot be assumed optimistically across the full biennial budget period.”
“A looming trade war and recent examples of a potential economic slowdown should caution the General Assembly against major spending increases today that may require painful programmatic cuts tomorrow,” he continued.
Lawson applauded the Senate for “expanding EdChoice scholarships” in its budget proposal, but again warned that “the Senate’s proposed education spending levels remain too high.”
“Since the 1990s, Ohio’s spending on K-12 public education has grown faster than inflation even as school enrollment has declined,” he added.
“The Senate has taken several positive steps with House Bill 166,” he concluded his testimony. “We are encouraged by some of the tax and school choice policies in the budget and are excited by the possibility of even greater regulatory reform. But Ohio’s over-spending trend must be curbed.”
Lawmakers in the House and Senate have until a June 30 deadline to agree on a state budget.
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