Thursday, October 29, 2009

No on Issues 1 and 3

For many of the same reasons as I oppose Issue 2, I am also against Issues 1 and 3.

Here is the Ohio Issues Report from the Ohio Ballot Board that provides the ballot language for the measures, the actual text of the proposals as well as pros and cons of each one.

Issue 1 would "authorize the state to issue bonds to provide compensation to veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts."

Under the provision:

* The state would issue up to two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000) of bonds to provide compensation to veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts, and to pay for the administration of the Compensation Bond Retirement Fund and the Compensation Fund.

* The Ohio Department of Veterans Services would provide compensation to persons who have served in active duty in the United States armed forces at any time during the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts and who were Ohio residents at the start of active duty services and are currently Ohio residents.

So the state of Ohio is going to borrow money to pay out to a certain class of citizen based upon their employment in the U.S. armed forces. This is not for individuals who actually fought in the named conflicts, but for all veterans.

There are many who will say that this is 'the least we can do' for our veterans. But I have a sneaking suspicion that our veterans would not want the state - or its taxpayers and their fellow citizens - to go into debt just to give them cash for their service.

And that's what this measure will do. The state is going to borrow $200 million dollars to pay out to a particular class of Ohio citizens. There is nothing that says where the payments for this loan are going to come from - or whether or not tax incentives or credits on the Ohio Income Tax forms might be a better way of 'compensating' the valiant individuals.

Plus, the maximum amount is only $1,000 per vet. Do we really think $1,000 is going to be 'enough' to express our true gratitude for their service? If $1,000 is a good amount, why not $5,000, or $10,000 or even $25,000? Or is the $1,000 at a total cost of $200 million just what they think voters will approve?

And exactly how much of that $200 million is going to be dedicated to paying for the 'administration' of the bonds and the disbursements? Issue 1 would create another expansion of government, including an expansion of the costs of government.

Additionally, we're still involved in these conflicts, so we really have no idea what the final costs would actually be. Between the unknown number of veterans and the unknown costs of administration, there is no guarantee the final bill will be 'just' $200 million.

It is true that we can never do enough for our veterans, but that is a personal choice and a personal obligation - not a state deciding to borrow money and then tax everyone for the repayments. Besides, do you really think the politicians will be telling our veterans to thank the Ohio people for the 'gift'? Or will they be going around touting what 'they' did to help???

The very noble goal of providing a 'thank you' should be not be done by putting a financially-strapped state into further debt, or by expanding the cost of state government, or by taxing individuals just so politicians can have a point to add to their campaign literature.

If Ohioans really want to help our veterans, volunteer for them. Offer to help a military family clean out their gutters or do other home maintenance and repairs. Offer to drive a vet to the doctor's appointment, take them out to lunch, give them a grocery gift card, visit them when they're in the hospital.

If you want to show your appreciation for their service, YOU do it - personally - in a way that brings honor to you and them.

Vote NO on Issue 1 and take it upon yourself to provide your own 'thank you' for the sacrifices our U.S. armed services have made for our safety.

***

Issue 3 would amend the state Constitution to allow for one casino each in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo but would distribute the taxes on the casinos to all Ohio counties.

Many people have taken a position on this measure based upon the economic development aspects, the potential revenue to the various jurisdictions or because of the very subject of gambling.

My opposition has nothing to do with the subject matter. I believe that if you want to gamble, the state shouldn't be able to dictate to you about that choice. And while I believe that gambling can be bad - in fact, very, very bad - for some people, it can also be a form of entertainment for those who do it responsibly. Of course, that requires individuals to be responsible - or to suffer the suffer the consequences if they are not.

When it comes to tax revenue and/or economic development, pick your side and you'll find plenty of studies, reports, evaluations, etc...that will reinforce your opinion.

My opposition is to the amending of the state Constitution to carve out a business option for a particular type of business in only a few of the cities in the state.

If there was an amendment to establish plants that make whiskey in certain towns in Ohio with income from taxes distributed throughout the state, would you believe this was a proper use of the Constitution? Probably not...

What if the industry was a Halloween costume maker?

The point is that the 'industry' or specific business is not relevant. What is relevant is maintaining the Constitution as a document that applies to all equally - not one that can be piece-mealed to carve out benefits or exceptions for some.

So regardless of your support or opposition to 'gambling,' I urge you to reject the Constitutional amendment process proposed and vote NO on Issue 3.


*** If you'd like to know what positions other bloggers and media have taken on these issues, be sure to check out the 2009 Ohio Issues page on Ballotpedia.

6 comments:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

I remain torn on Issue 1, balancing my Conservative principles against the rather poor way that we have treated service personnel in this country. As much as I sympathize however, I suspect that principle will win out in the voting booth.

As to Issue 3, perhaps we can next have a state constitutional monopoly on utility companies (wait, we almost have that here in Toledo), or newspaper and radio station ownership in given cities. This legislation is flawed on too many levels to list.

Maggie Thurber said...

Tim - there are roughly 8.8 million Ohioans above the age of 18. If everyone of those Ohioans donated either time (or actual cash) worth $30 to our Vets, we'd actually 'give' them the equivalent of $265 million. Which is more than the state is planning to borrow and not money off the top for 'administration.'

And if the 'donation' was in time or services, how much more valuable is that to the Vets???

I guess no one stops to think about those things, or the negative consequences when some conclude that they have no obligation to do anything because their tax dollars are already doing it for them....

James said...

The reason I'm against Issue 1 is that war is a federal government issue, not a state issue. War is decided in Washington, not by our state legislature in Columbus. The payments should come from the federal government, not the state.

Kadim said...

I voted against Issue 1. Like everyone else, I feel that we owe a lot to our vets/servicemen...

and yet Issue 1 really just breaks down to Ohioans bailing out the federal government out of its responsibilities to vets. And yes, I think that's the terminology that should be used is bailing out.

As for Issue 3, I held my nose and voted for it. I hate gambling, but I think of it as a "necessary evil." I think there are economic advantages, but I think the proponents exaggerate them.

In regards to the businesses carving their gambling monopolies into the state constitution my thinking goes:

a.) once Ohioans get over the hurdle of legal gambling, we might be able to make future changes to the gambling amendments and improve them

b.) arguably the only way we were going to have legal gambling in this state is through an expensive initiative and accompanying campaign in favor of it...and the only people who were going to pay for that would be the gaming interests, and the only way they would want to pay would be if they were the beneficiaries of the amendment. So they wrote it for themselves.

I understand why it had to happen that way. The only way a generic pro-gambling amendment would have occurred would have been through the legislature putting it to the ballot. And they weren't interested.

c.) A lot of crap ends up in our constitution because, unfortunately, it is a lot easier to collect signatures to get an amendment passed than it is to collect signatures for a law.

Some would argue that that is not that big a deal...because the state constitution is not like the federal constitution in that it's supposed to be extremely difficult to change. While the state constitution does setup the framework for Ohio government like the federal constitution, unlike the federal constitution, it's basically just a special set of laws that require approval of the citizens to change. It was meant to be changed quite frequently (and indeed, we have a vote in 2010 coming up asking if we want a convention.)

I'd agree though, that we don't want to end up going the Alabama route, where the state constitution is the longest in the world. California and Texas are long as well.

Alan said...

It is probably a little late to post this, you have already done your damage, however I felt the need as I am one of the Vets you are writing about. With over 9yrs in the service and 2 tours overseas, I think you are dong an amazing disservice for trying to have people vote against this Issue

This is a small way for the state of Ohio to thank the veterans of this great state for their service in a time of named conflict. It has been done since WW I as a small way to show appreciation.

Yes you are correct, the service members who have served domestically during those periods will get compensated, only half as much as those that were involved in the combat zones. I believe that "class of citizen" as you put it, should be entitled to compensation for their duties and service. Also should not ALL veterans be held in the same manner of respect.

I do agree that there are other ways to thank Veterans for their service, what they have sacrificed, being away from families and friends, doing a job to protect this country. But hey if you think $1000 and $5000 (for families that lost a service member) is too much then I understand, and really if it is I urge you to volunteer yourself to the service of your country.

Maggie Thurber said...

Alan - you misunderstand. It's not that the designated amount of money is 'too much'... Personally, I don't think anything is enough to say thank you to them.

This is about the principle. Something most Veterans understand and support.

First, if the state borrows money to give it to some people, can it borrow money to give it to others? What's to prevent this from becoming a practice based upon the opinions of politicians that some other 'class of citizen' should also get compensation?

And just how much is the overall cost, especially when the number of those people eligible is not known? Funny, that's not really mentioned anywhere - just the emotional appeal of 'for the vets' (which is too much like the excuse of 'for the children').

In the long term, how much will it cost those families who are supposedly benefitting from the handout? Will the cost of principle, interest and administration end up being more than the $1,000 they get?

Over time, that is very likely. So how have we really helped? We've put Veterans into debt along with the rest of the citizens of the state. How does that help them at all? It doesn't.

So what are we really doing?

We're borrowing money and placing the state further in debt when it has no funds to begin with. And, we're letting a bunch of politicians take credit for 'giving' Vets a handout.

The 'state' is not saying thank you - only 'people' can do that ... and if people want to say thank you to a vet, there are plenty of ways to do so that don't require the 'state' to borrow money.

You use the word 'entitled.'

Veterans have earned respect and honor. They don't believe they are 'entitled' to anything - at least, not the ones I know.

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