Approve tax relief in the Senate plan

When government officials at all levels find themselves with unexpected revenue, the knee-jerk reaction of liberals among them is to spend it. Fortunately, a majority of Ohio Senate members disagree.

Revenue is flowing into the state budget at a substantially better rate than had been projected. Gov. John Kasich and conservatives in the state Senate agree taxpayers ought to benefit from that.

In a 24-8 vote last Wednesday, senators approved a $402 million package of tax cuts. They will benefit low- and middle-income Ohioans and small businesses. Because of how the breaks are targeted, they should boost the economy.

But some liberals wanted state government to keep the money. They said more funding should be doled out to school systems and local governments, as well as for state programs.

An important aspect of the increasing centralization of government at both the state and federal levels is involved, here. State legislatures and the U.S. Congress have a tendency to take taxpayers’ money, then, in effect, send it back to them through funding for schools and local governments. That allows state capitals and Washington to set public policy agendas, while taking credit for providing the funds.

Kasich and the state Senate have adopted the reverse of that strategy. They want to leave more money in taxpayers’ pockets. If local voters want to approve higher taxes for schools, communities and counties, they can do so with some of the money contained in the breaks approved Wednesday.

This is not a done deal, however. State House of Representatives members have approved related bills that do not include the Senate tax relief provisions. It is expected a conference committee will reconcile differences in the measures.

Clearly, the House should go along with the Senate’s tax relief package.