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Published: Friday, 2/23/2007

Tax money wings south

THE Republican-controlled state legislature continues to act in its own best political interest instead of the greater good of all Ohioans. In utter disregard for the message of change embodied in the mid-term elections last November, state GOP lawmakers pretty much embraced business as usual.

A prime example is the bill, signed into law last month by outgoing Gov. Bob Taft, that will mainly benefit well-to-do retirees from Ohio who winter in warmer states without income taxes - like Florida - who will receive a new and improved tax break when they come back to Ohio.

Those who leave the state before the snow falls and return in time for summer already enjoyed a four-month break before having to declare state residency or pay state taxes. The new law extends the snowbird perk to six months.

The former state representative who sponsored this unnecessary dispensation conceded his bill would "definitely cost the state in income tax." But Republican Jim Trakas, of Independence, believed the trade-off was worth it, apparently because many of these folks tend to contribute generously to political campaigns.

The Ohio Department of Taxation says the tax break will cost the state up to $30 million a year. Mr. Trakas claims the loss will be between $7 million and $10 million. But whatever the figure, Mr. Trakas insisted the difference will be more than made up by the amount of money the snowbirds spend when they're here. That's a dubious proposition. The real mission was to let rich retirees off the hook. And they did.

If the state comes up about $30 million short in the coming budget debate, we know where to find the money.

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