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Property tax changes face Democratic opposition

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s new budget includes some potentially big changes for homeowners, and Democrats in the state legislature aren’t too happy.

The state has canceled the 12.5 percent property tax rollback that has been in place for 40 years. This could be bad news for school districts that are trying to drum up support for tax levies that will be on the ballot this election season.

Kevin Haddad, president of the Lucas County Township Association, is worried that this new development will cause voters not to cast their ballots in favor of levies come November.

“With the changes, statewide we will see people in townships not passing any levies when they realize they’re paying 100 percent of the tax,” Haddad said in a Toledo Blade article.

The new budget could also impact Ohio senior citizens who own homes. In 2007, all homeowners over 65 were exempt from homestead taxes. However, under the new budget, senior homeowners who make more than $30,000 a year will no longer be exempt.

The new budget measures are undoubtedly controversial. Rep. Nick Barborak from Columbiana County is arguably the leader of the push to delay these changes.

“I think it’s a tax increase on property owners and on seniors. There’s no question about that. . . And it places more of a burden on property taxes and local school districts than I believe are required under the Ohio Constitution,” Barborak, a Democrat, said in an interview with ideastream.org.

Barborak believes that these new developments in the state budget are unfair due to the fact that school districts will not have time to plan their fall levies before the budget is signed. On Aug. 16, he introduced a bill that will delay the property tax changes until after the November election.

“Many levies were planned well before the budget was passed, so now what we’ve done for these districts is changed the rules in the middle of the game,” Barborak said in a press release after he introduced H.B. 245.

Eight other Democrats in Ohio’s House have co-sponsored Barborak’s bill, including Assistant Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni. Earlier this year, Schiavoni introduced his own bill that would increase safety and security funds for school districts across Ohio.

Schiavoni voiced his disappointment for Kasich’s budget in June, stating that one of his biggest qualms was the fact that schools and senior citizens seemed to be getting the short end of the stick.

“Instead of assisting all hard working Ohioans, it aims to benefit the top 1%. This is not the balanced package being celebrated by the authors of this legislation. Instead, we need to make greater investments in our children, our communities and in workforce development,” Schiavoni said in a statement.

H.B. 245 was filed with the House Clerk last Tuesday but has not been scheduled for a hearing. Whether or not it will potentially pass in time for the November election remains to be seen.

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