Ohio’s Year End Surplus

business (3)With a surplus of $475 million the Ohio government is finishing the year better than expected.  And although the recommendation is to be cautious with this surplus, lawmakers are still unsure what they will do with it. It could mean tax cuts or debt payments for the state of Ohio or they can tap into the funds for additional spending for the next years.

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Main Street Ohio Retailer Needs Congress to Pass E-Fairness Legislation

For nearly 40 years, I’ve held the reins at Baker and Baker Jewelers in downtown Marietta, Ohio. Spanning nearly a century, Baker and Baker has grown and evolved along with our community. Over the years, I’ve had to contend with a lot, but the current disparity between how our nation’s tax laws treat brick-and-mortar businesses like mine compared with our online competitors is perhaps one of the most insurmountable obstacles we’ve ever had to face. For the sake of Main Street businesses and communities nationwide, it’s time for Congress to do something to fix this problem once and for all.

Currently, most if not all of my online competitors are exempt from collecting and remitting state sales taxes. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar businesses like mine must collect and remit these taxes every day on every purchase, putting me at an immediate 7.25 percent disadvantage here in Marietta. As any small-business owner will tell you, this is enough to make or break a business. I can generally match or beat a price — I have no issue competing against a nearby retailer or an online competitor — but I can’t tell a customer that I won’t bother charging them sales tax. The government would probably throw me in jail if I did that, yet my online competitors are invited to do that every day.  How is this a free market?

Ohio’s projected year-end surplus grows despite tax cuts 

Even as projected revenue is reduced because of new income-tax cuts, the state budget office now estimates the state will finish the fiscal year with nearly $632 million more than it will spend.

Once the mandatory carry-over is subtracted, the early estimate is the state will end June 2015 with a surplus of about $475 million. That’s money lawmakers could seek to tap into via tax cuts, debt payments or additional spending when they return in November, or next year.

The estimated surplus is unusually high — 2.1 percent of the general revenue fund compared with the 0.5 percent that budget officials often target. Tim Keen, the state budget director, said continued Medicaid underspending — there are roughly 200,000 fewer Ohioans on Medicaid than anticipated — is driving the surplus higher.

Ohio’s rainy-day fund is at its legal capacity — around $1.5 billion — so the question is what Gov. John Kasich and lawmakers will choose to do with the surplus money, should it actually materialize. Keen, as he often does, is urging caution.

“We’ve worked very hard to regain the fiscal stability of the state, and we ought to be very conservative and cautious with what commitments we make, particularly because much of this is from underspending,” he said.

Dayton given an ‘A’ from small businesses

The city of Dayton is rated the top business friendly metro city in Ohio, according to a survey of small business owners.

Small business owners gave Dayton an A- for its overall friendliness and tax code, according to the survey of 12,000 U.S. small businesses done by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“It’s a good environment for our firm, and we’ve had a lot of support from the community through the years,” Tom Thickel, president of architecture firm Levin Partners Associates, said about Dayton.

Nearly 80 percent of businesses in Dayton are considered small businesses, meaning they have fewer than 50 employees, according to Dayton Chamber of Commerce vice president Chris Kershner.

Downtown Dayton Partnership president Sandy Gudorf said small businesses help add to the job creation needed in Dayton.

“We’ve seen significant activity in small business growth in downtown. This is a great community for a small business,” Gudorf said.

Gina Jones, owner of Green Baby, an organic baby specialty store, said Dayton has opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.