Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Taxiversary

June 1, is a very significant day in the Tri-State, yet, nobody will notice (unless they read this). This Thursday is the 10th anniversary of the ½% countywide stadium sales tax. On June 1, 1996, the county enacted a sales tax of ½% to build a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium for the Reds and Bengals. I remember hearing then Governor Voinovich talk about how important this would be for our economy. I remember hearing then Mayor Qualls talk about how, even though she was not a sports fan, this was necessary to revitalize the riverfront. I remember hearing promises about a lot of out of county tax dollars that would pour in. So, here we are, 10 years later, what has happened? Let’s take a look.

The riverfront (now we are calling it The Banks) is hardly revitalized. 10 years later, our politicians are still grandstanding that they will be the one to revitalize it. New politicians, same old promises, same old problems.

Despite the higher sales tax, the stadiums will be running a deficit. In 1997, the sales tax brought in an additional $52.8 million. With a 3% annual increase (as what was projected), that number should have grown to $66.85 million for 2005. Instead, sales receipts in the county have grown by 2.41% per year. That means that $64.06 million was raised in 2005 ($2.79 million short of where we should be!). In fact, if the sales receipts starts growing by 3% per year, by 2032 (when the sales tax is supposed to be retired), we will have a deficit of $80.6 million! If it grows by 2% per year, then we are looking at a deficit of $191.5 million![1]

Can you see another tax hike around the corner just to pay for the first tax?

The economy is struggling. If overall sales for Hamilton County have not increased, it shows that people do not have more money to spend. This shows that the stadiums nor the sales tax did not help jump start our economy. With Hamilton County’s population loss (since 2000, Hamilton County has lost 38,651 people, about 21 people per day are leaving)[2], the stadiums, or the stadium tax, certainly has not made this an area people want to live in.

Let’s remember what we were promised 10 years ago. “For a Major League Future”, we were going to have a vibrant Downtown. We were going to have a vibrant Riverfront. We were going to have a booming economy. We were told that we need this tax. Unfortunately, our politicians were wrong.

[1] Source, Hamilton County Commissioner’s Office
[2] Source, US Census

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blackwell Breaks Campaign Promise BEFORE Being Elected

Congratulations to Ken Blackwell and his campaign staff. This may be the first time in history a politician has broken his central campaign promise to cut state and local taxing and spending BEFORE getting elected. Backroom negotiations with his own Republican Party have led to a deal to prevent proposed tax cuts at the local level.

According to media reports, "Blackwell met privately with the Senate GOP leadership team and Senate Chief of Staff Matt Schuler for about an hour yesterday to heal some wounds from the primary campaign, discuss the campaign platform and explore ways to remove the TEL amendment from the ballot and find an alternative. Blackwell, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, has said he would ditch his Tax and Expenditure Limitation ballot issue - a cornerstone of his campaign - if a suitable alternative could be found. "The precipitous rise in local taxes has placed Ohio somewhere among the top seven highest taxed states. The Taxing and Expenditure Limitation amendment to the Ohio Constitution would have placed strict limits on the growth of state and local government.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio has endorsed the amendment, while Republicans are scrambling to find a way out of it. The Libertarians are now Ohio's only political party to clearly support local tax and spending cuts.

There is a clear disconnect between Republican leaders who overwhelmingly endorsed Jim Petro, and the Republican electorate who favored the fiscal responsibility they thought they were getting with Ken Blackwell. I encourage disappointed Blackwell supporters, and anyone who favors small government, to vote for Bill Peirce for Governor (, and support their local Libertarian Party.

Robert Butler
Secretary, LPO
County Coordinator,
LP Delaware
3982 Powell Rd. Suite 136 *
Powell * OH * 43065
(740) 204-3036

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gambling Issues Shows Cincinnati Council’s real problem.

It seems like a cliché. For many years the gambling lobby has been pushing for more legalized gambling. They promise more money for local economies, local governments, and local schools. The anti-gambling groups talk about the evils of legalized gambling, increased crime, poor families gambling too much, and compulsive gambling. In states like Indiana, gambling went through pretty quickly, in Ohio, this battle has been going on for over 10 years. Instead of talking about the pluses and minuses of legalized gambling, why is it now that what was once immoral and strictly illegal, now all of a sudden getting the support of so many politicians?

As a Libertarian, one obviously gets disgusted when government decides that it is their job to protect people from themselves. If non-government run gambling is allowed to legally occur in Ohio, and Cincinnati, it certainly does allow people to do what they want to do, so long as they are not infringing on the rights of others. But why are our local politicians getting behind it so much now. In the 1980’s, Governor Celeste never pushed for legalized gambling. Neither did Mayor Luken. But now, Luken tries to convince you that Cincinnati NEEDS it to survive.

This whole issue seems to show the spending problem that we have here in Cincinnati, and Ohio. Our politicians have spent way too much money on wasteful pet project and damaging bureaucracies. All the while people and businesses left Cincinnati by the droves in large part because lower taxes made for a better business environment. Many people left the city as well because their jobs left the area. So instead of curbing spending, they spent more, despite the fact that they cannot afford what they are buying.

The issue with legalized gambling in Cincinnati should be a wake up call to show you how addicted to spending our politicians have become. Instead of finding ways to cut back, just as an ordinary family does, the city finds it proper to resort to gambling to get out of their financial muck.