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Local governments in Ohio have taken tremendous fiscal hits in recent years and now many are resorting to the ballot box to close their budget gaps. Next week Ohio voters will be voting on 194 school levies, including 123 for additional funding. According to the Columbus Dispatch this is “the highest percentage of new tax issues in a general election in at least the past decade.” Recently, the state cut aid to local governments from by more than a billion dollars and then eliminated the state’s estate tax, a key revenue source for cities and towns which brought in $230 million to local government coffers in 2010, for example. Wendy Patton with Policy Matters Ohio wrote earlier this summer, “Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly pushed the fiscal crisis down to local schools and communities.”
Ohio is not the only state where local governments are turning to voters this year to approve new revenue in the wake of state aid reductions. More than 1000 local governments across the country in more than a dozen states have tax or fee related questions on their November 6 ballots.
California voters will not only have to decide on two competing statewide tax increase measures, but will also likely face similar decisions at the local level. Hundreds of measures will appear on local ballots including sales tax increases, school parcel taxes, and hotel tax hikes. The revenue raised from these initiatives will be used for everything from schools to police and fire services to the upkeep of parks.