Winds of change appear to be blowing across Ohio. This morning, the Buckeye Institute released the results of a poll it commissioned from Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies. A statewide survey of 1,900 Ohioans reveals that they are very concerned with the current state of affairs and want some serious reform to solve the major fiscal problems in the state. But what stands out from this poll is the finding that Ohioans do not want increases in government spending and higher taxes to cure the fiscal maladies that plague the state. Instead, Ohioans want public employee compensation reduced first and foremost, and they think the tax burden is already too high. What's more, Ohioans think that the regulatory burden on business is excessive, employees should enjoy the right to work, and energy policy needs be comprehensive. Here are highlights from the poll, which had 2.31% margin of error:
- 50% think Ohio government leaders should first reduce government worker compensation to eliminate the $8 billion state budget deficit;
- Only 16% think taxes should be increased to eliminate the Ohio deficit;
- 52% think Ohio's state and local taxes are too high;
- 56% think Ohio's regulatory environment makes it harder for businesses to create jobs and grow;
- 85% think workers should be free to choose whether to join a labor union to get a job; and;
- 67% think Ohio should stick with coal or add nuclear and natural gas energy;
Politicians in Columbus should not ignore this poll. The poll clearly shows substantial majorities of residents, from across the state, are concerned about Ohio's fiscal problems and the tax and regulatory burdens. By zeroing in on public employee compensation, Ohioans demonstrate that they understand government spending, which includes generous public employee salaries and pension benefits, needs to be addressed. The Buckeye Institute has found that public employees earn more than their private sector counterparts by an average of almost 25 percent. Ohioans also recognize that the state's tax burden, which includes the onerous Commercial Activity Tax and the draconian death tax, is far too high to encourage long-term economic growth, something that is sorely needed in this former industrial powerhouse. Ohio, like other states across the country, have spending and regulatory, not revenue problems. As the State Legislature begins to figure out how to resolve the upcoming deficits and candidates for elected office present their solutions for Ohio, they should take heed the results in this poll. The results are clear: Ohioans want reform in their state, not more of the same.