One party, three state budgets

Anyone who considers the Republican Party to be anything approaching unified has not been to Columbus lately. There, the governor, John Kasich, is a Republican. The state Senate is dominated by Republicans. The GOP also holds a majority in the state House of Representatives.

And three substantially different tax relief proposals are favored by Kasich, state Senate leaders and many GOP representatives.

Here, in essence, is where the situation stands:

Kasich wants some small busines tax relief, along with a 20 percent general reduction in state income taxes.

Leaders in the House favor some small business tax breaks, but a general income tax cut of just 7 percent. That package is worth about $1.5 billion over two years.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has advanced a bill containing $1.4 billion in tax relief, with most of it targeted to small businesses.

Senators are right to consider job creation a top priority in Ohio. Their bill would exempt from state income taxes the first $375,000 in small business earnings by any individual.

That certainly would boost hiring among small businesses. It also would allow many to modernize facilities and equipment.

But working families in Ohio deserve at least some consideration in the two-year budget being debated at the Statehouse.

As Kasich and, to a lesser extent, leaders in the House, understand, general income tax relief would boost the state’s economy, too. Much of the money individual and family taxpayers would save through general relief would be spent at Ohio businesses.

Unfortunately, it appears the $1.5 billion in tax relief contained in the House bill represents a ceiling in some lawmakers’ minds. They don’t think the state can afford much more than that in tax relief.

In part, that is because both houses have rejected tax increases proposed by the governor, primarily on the gas and oil industries.

Still, within the $1.5 billion limit, individuals and families should receive at least something of a break in their tax bills. State senators should compromise with the House and agree to provide it as part of a comprehensive tax relief plan.