Editorial: Unnecessary burdens of H.B. 126

A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

House Bill 126 is the same disaster it was months ago. Now it has passed the state Senate and must return to the House to concur with some changes made by the Senate. This is another piece of legislation from our General Assembly designed to appeal to a constituency rather than put good policy into place.

If this bill ever reaches the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine, God forbid, he should veto it. It probably will reach his desk in some form — a testament to the complete foolhardiness of the current majority of the Ohio General Assembly.

Sure, everyone hates property taxes, but they remain essential to funding basic functions of government — schools, for instance. Perhaps the sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Derek Merrin (R., Monclova Township), would rather have income taxes increased to fund schools. Or perhaps he’d rather not fund public schools at all. That obviously can’t happen.

The bill directs an attack on local decisions on school funding, as state Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) pointed out. The bill is opposed by many county commissions across the state.

Spending money on schools does not stifle economic development. It’s just the opposite. Good schools foster economic development. Only a fool would think otherwise.

The reality is the school funding system in Ohio remains unconstitutional. The bill will lead to courts ordering tax increases to ensure fair school funding across Ohio.

Adding another layer of paperwork and bureaucracy to the already cumbersome process of revisions to property valuations simply doesn’t make sense. That’s precisely what this bill would require.

School boards seek changes to property valuations during hearings before county boards of revision. The challenge is designed to make sure local school systems get their fair share of property taxes to fund education.

Sufficient guarantees for property owners already exist within the law when an owner wants to fight a valuation change during the board of revision process.

The bill is touted as a method to save property owners money if they decide to contest a revision. That’s not really what the bill does; it simply makes the process more onerous for school boards and other local taxing authorities.

Property owners have the right to be heard and appeal tax decisions under current law. There is no need to add additional requirements.

Despite the passage of the national infrastructure plan, Ohio schools struggle to make budgets work and pay for the basic necessities. Now, this bill threatens to make things more difficult.

This bill puts burdens on boards of education when questioning property valuations. The last thing boards need to be doing is spending funds jumping through more hoops to contest property taxes.

If H.B. 126 comes to Mr. DeWine’s desk, he should veto the bill.

— Toledo Blade, Dec. 22