BLOG: 'Jackson blasted in sermons across Ohio'

Tom Jackson
Jan 27, 2011


That's one of the fake headlines generated after I tried my hand at being governor of Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch has put together a very cool Web site to allow everyone a chance to replace Gov. John Kasich.

The newpaper's site presents a series of multiple choice questions. You can raise taxes or cut them, eliminate special tax breaks, sell off state assets (such as the turnpike and the lottery), and chop money from a host of state programs, including programs that were protected by Gov. Ted Strickland (such as funding for public schools.)

When you're finished, be sure to enter your last name and submit your budget. The site will generate a fake news page, so that you can read what your critics would likely say.

On my first attempt, after submitting what I thought was a very tough  budget, I discovered that I fell more than $1 billion short. When I finally succeeded in getting close to a balanced budget, I got headlines such as "Jackson's plan 'far too severe,' critics assert" and "Teachers flunk Jackson for 'gutting' public education."

The site gives a real sense of the tough choices facing folks in Columbus. I choose not to raise taxes (although I tinkered with the tax system by reducing the state sales tax and state income tax but eliminating tax breaks for special interest groups, providing a net slight tax cut.) So to balance the budget, I had to cut most state programs and sell the state lottery to a private operator.




Tom, curious, did you do anything with the myriad of state parks whether be to sell them or privatizing them?

Lily Von Schtupp

This was pretty cool!  Here were my headlines:

Retailers vow: We'll stop 'job killer' sales-tax increase Huge pay-cut protest by state workers chokes Downtown Columbus Governor becomes target of pastors' wrath Education cuts will 'dumb down' Ohio, foes charge
Local school taxes expected to soar Governor's lease-back plan called long-term disaster Mental-health advocates praise governor for deflecting budget ax Governor's college cutbacks called 'educational suicide' for Ohio
Families fear sharp rise in tuition, other fees Mayors' group praises governor for sparing 'vital aid' to cities



State sales tax: Increase sales tax rate to 6% (raises $1.3 billion) 'Pop' tax: One cent per ounce (raises $800 million) Commercial activities tax: End exemption for first $1 million in sales (raises $250 million) Exemptions: Make churches pay sales tax (raises $700 million) Exemptions: Apply sales tax to prescription drugs (raises $1.3 billion) Exemptions: End sales-tax exemption for mining and farming equipment (raises $300 million) Exemptions: End sales-tax exemption for equipment sold to electricity providers (raises $650 million) Spending Aid to K-12 education: Cut aid by 5% (saves $670 million) Aid to colleges & universities: Cut aid by 25% (saves $850 million) Aid to libraries: Cut aid by 10% (saves $75 million) Spending on adult and youth prisons: Cut spending by 5% (saves $180 million) Medicaid: Cut spending for hospital care by 5% (saves $110 million) State employees: Cut pay by 3% (saves $200 million)



You have a budget surplus of $0.165 billion.


Tom Jackson

 Hi Goofus,


No, I didn't. I figure if the state is going to uphold property rights for the folks who own property along the lakefront,  state parks (and local parks) are needed to give everyone else access. I don't have a sense for whether there are too many parks statewide, so I left it alone.



6079 Smith W



Among other things, I incrementally increased the state sales tax and offset it with a 5% reduction in the income tax.

Ended Medicaid benefits for vision, dental, podiatry and hospice. 

Sold off every @#$% publicly owned asset mentioned.

Left most spending and deductions alone for the present.

I came in with a $3.815 billion budget surplus.

In addition to the hateful headlines, I was probably hung and burned in effigy.

Helps to prove that I'm unelectable - not surprised.

Reminds me of a suped-up version of a few political sim games that I played in school.

Thanks Mr. Jackson! 


Columbus Dispatch's website is interesting but not THAT cool - an amusing game, but filled with false choices. Would be better if you could plug in your own proposals. I would:

Eliminate most sales tax. Collection is costly for the state and business alike, and unjustly burdens the poorest people. Increase tax on cigs, alcohol, keep sales tax on NEW cars only. Reduce and simplify license plate fees, bases on gross vehicle weight, no penalty for commercial vehicles, cheap ten-year plates for non-commercial trailers, most of which are rarely used. Eliminate personal property tax on business. Property tax reform with BIG CUTS, generally: End schools' reliance on local property tax EXCEPT for LIMITED capital projects with limits, fund more with state general revenues instead. (This is long overdue, per OH Constitution.) 50% homestead exemption for first $50K value of one residence with no age test. 100% for 60+ and disabled. Reduce & reform ag exemptions (welfare for millionaire farmers.) Above cuts not quite revenue-neutral - funded in part with budget cuts but mostly with income tax increases. Eliminate city income taxes. Replace this unfair "flat tax" with a local-option add-on to state income tax (more progressive, if only slightly, and cheaped and more efficient to collect, eliminating separate, inefficient and sometimes corrupt city income tax collection systems.) Eliminate inheritance tax BUT tax as ordinary income instead (Why tax earned income at a higher rate than a windfall?)

Above (admittedly radical and unrealistic) "modest proposals" are sure to attract rants form the right. Ducking and covering now.

brutus smith




Tom Jackson


I was frustrated I couldn't make more choices,too. (I wanted to wipe out ALL the special interest tax breaks and cut tax rates further.) But the  trade off is that if the site were too complicated and offered too many choices, only policy wonks would use it. It is meant to be a tool to show the average person, taking only a few minutes, the kinds of choices that might be made. 

6079 Smith W
Factitious writes:   “Increase tax on cigs, alcohol,” “Above cuts not quite revenue-neutral - funded in part with budget cuts but mostly with income tax increases.”   Depending on the percentage of the tax increase on the cigs and booze – looking forward to the increase in black market “entreprenuers.”   Increase the income tax? Consider the Laffer Curve – destroy the incentive. You'll also see a further exodus of high net worth individuals to no income tax states like TX and FL.   Consumption or sales taxes are about the only fair taxes because it helps to soak up revenue from both legal and illegal activities - income taxes do not.     OH could also consider placing sales taxes on consumer services and not only goods.      
Captain Gutz

@ 6079 Smith W

Sales taxes on consumer services already exists, look at your next repair bill.
6079 Smith W
Also, I would like to see the elimination of OH's Byzantine post-Prohibition liquor laws.   Having one liquor store in a municipality the size of Norwalk and none in Milan is IMO - absurd.   In Chicago where I lived for many yrs., there was one just about on every corner.   Increasing the number of liquor store licenses will more than likely accomplish the following:  

Increase state and local liquor tax receipts. 

Increase competition and lower prices for liquor. 

Increase the number of liquor industry and retail related jobs.  

About the only reason there is a liquor monopoly in OH is because there are people and bureaucrats being paid as well as profiting to maintain it at the expense of citizens’ pockets.



6079 Smith W
 @ CG:    I was referring to services such as accounting, plumbing, printing, etc., which are currently untouched by the sales tax.     Also think about beginning the taxing of prepared food regardless where it is consumed.    

The state has to either raise tax revenue or reduce publicly provided health and welfare benefits - there ain't no magic.