National anti-tax group sets up shop in Ohio

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National anti-tax group sets up shop in Ohio

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Laura A. Bischoff
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, announce the creation of Ohioans for Tax Reform.

Americans for Tax Reform, a national anti-tax group led by Grover Norquist, is planting its flag in Ohio with a new state chapter that will focus on beating back tax hikes.

Norquist appeared at an Ohio Statehouse press conference on Wednesday with state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, and Jack Boyle, who will lead the newly formed Ohioans for Tax Reform.

“We have big fights here. Our budget is billions and billions of dollars. That’s a lot of taxpayer dollars that are being collected and spent. We need to have a group in D.C. supporting us in the Legislature to fight for tax reform, to fight against tax increases,” Antani said.

Antani said he subscribes to the theory that lower taxes spurs economic growth, pointing to jobs created after his fellow lawmakers pushed through more business and income tax cuts. “Ohioans deserve to keep their money.”

Critics of this theory include Zach Schiller, senior researcher at the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio. Schiller has said that the tax cut benefits are regularly skewed toward the wealthy who don’t need the breaks. Despite the tax breaks and cuts embraced by Ohio lawmakers, the state’s economic recovery lags behind the nation, he has said.

Boyle said Ohioans for Tax Reform will come up with an agenda soon.

“The tax situation in Ohio is sufficiently complex that we need a comprehensive look at it. So, we’ll be working on that agenda as we get up and running,” Boyle said.

Norquist said Americans for Tax Reform will fund the Ohio group and hopes to open chapters in half a dozen other states within six months.

Norquist said once tax rates are held steady, government spending reform will follow.

Over the past dozen years Ohio has been on a tax-cutting spree: reducing the personal income tax rates, eliminating some business taxes, adopting new tax breaks and wiping out the state estate tax. So why does it need a dedicated group to push tax reforms?

“You want to start where you have an electorate and elected officials who are open to a pro-taxpayer message,” Norquist said. “Ohio could do much more on spending and tax restraint. You compare it to other faster growing, lower tax states, it could do better.”

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