Sunday, March 18, 2012

Are We Being Parochial?

When the state recently considered and then long-term leased the Panhandle Rail Line, I wondered.  Is it fair for the benefits derived from charges for use of a state asset in seven counties to be spent by all 88 counties?

The line's costs are borne by shippers in seven counties.  The money is sent to the state and spent for all of the state's benefits.  Is that fair?

Yes, I know.  That's a parochial thought.

Others have asked the fairness question too.  If the Ohio Turnpike, which dissects northern Ohio is sold, leased, or re-capitalized, many northern Ohioans are asking if its fair for all the proceeds to be used to benefit "down state" counties too?

They squawked pretty loud and already got a capitulation from the Governor that "at least half" of the use of the proceeds would be slanted to favor one region of Ohio over the rest.  In his October 2011 remarks announcing this capitulation, the Governor said it was a "fair thing."

Now, Governor Kasich's March 2012 proposal to cut income taxes in exchange for a new, broader tax on the oil and gas boom in the Eastern part of Ohio makes me think of this issue again.

If enacted, this shale gas map of Ohio shows that likely one part of Ohio is from where the majority of the "new" tax revenues will be generated.  In the early years of this new tax, it's easy to predict that the actual number of counties generating the tax dollars will be a significantly smaller number than this map shows.  Yet, the tax cut will benefit the entire state.  In fact, population-wise, the tax cut will be disproportionately benefit areas away from where the tax is generated.

Is it being parochial to question that aspect of this?  Is that fair?

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