letter to the Editor by D. B. Stuart
The level of naiveté to which some people aspire never ceases to amaze me. Under the guise of “funds to repay project bonds are already built into state budget planning” (according to the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted), legislators and others advocating passage of Issue 1 assert that taxes will not increase if this proposed state constitutional amendment becomes law. Where, pray tell, do these people imagine the money to pay the resulting indebtedness will come from? The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Somehow, they would have you believe, the funds will just magically become available, but you won’t see any tax increases because they’ve already planned to tax you for it. And by the way, such a deal I have for you on some retirement real estate in Iraq.
As the Ohio Ballot Board has correctly pointed out (according to Husted’s office) if Issue 1 passes “all Ohio taxpayers will be paying interest on those bonds to cover local government projects…” Does going further into debt and paying interest cost taxpayers more than not paying interest? You’d better believe it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply ignorant, in denial, or at best misinformed.
“So what?” you say. “Who cares if we issue a few more bonds and add a little more debt to our tax burden? It’s for a good purpose.”
According to the State of Ohio’s own most recent 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Ohio’s citizens are already on the hook for almost $50 billion (that’s a 50 with 9 zeroes following it) in total “primary” government liabilities. But accounting gimmickry conveniently excludes off-the-books unfunded pension liabilities for state workers. So when real total debt is added up, Ohio taxpayers are enslaved to the tune of $321.3 billion, a crushing $27,835 per person, according to a recent report by the Washington Examiner (Jan. 21, 2014). The same report reveals that Ohio is in the unenviable position of 5th-worst state in terms of total debt obligations—only slightly less in the hole than Illinois, former fertile training ground for Barack Obama, the most fiscally irresponsible President in history.
Exacerbating this untenable liability for future generations of Ohioans, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington think tank, in its 2014 Rich States, Poor States annual report, ranks Ohio 49th (just ahead of another troubled neighbor, Michigan, home to the most corrupt, indebted and bankrupt city in history, Detroit) in Economic Performance, an index of three important indicators of states’ economic viability. With its near dead-last ranking in this category, does Ohio even stand a chance of ever repaying its current obligations, much less taking on yet more debt for another 30 years?
When our federal government (i.e. you, me, and our descendants), thanks to our drastically out-of-control tax-and-spend President and Congress, is already trillions of dollars in the red and frenetically borrowing more just to cover the interest owed, should we be worried about our own state issuing more bonds and going deeper in debt for three more decades? Should we care that we are imposing inescapable financial slavery on our children and grandchildren with this insanity? Do you (that’s you, Ohio taxpayer) really want to go even further in hock? Isn’t enough enough?
Let’s be responsible and work on reducing and paying off our existing state debt load, not risking our solvency by taking on more. Let’s keep more of our own hard-earned money by lowering and eliminating more taxes, not growing them. We Ohioans simply cannot continue to fool ourselves, taxing and borrowing our way to a phony prosperity. That’s why I urge you to join me in voting NO on Issue 1. The future of your family and our great state is at stake.
D. B. Stuart