Closing tax service centers expected to save $7 million
On the campaign trail, candidate John Kasich often railed about the size and inefficiency of state government, pledging to shrink state government and "skinny-down state bureaucracy to ensure taxpayers are getting their money's worth.”
Toward that end, the state said it plans to close its seven regional tax service centers on July 1, resulting in the loss of nearly 100 jobs.
Tax Commissioner Joe Testa sent e-mail notices to employees at regional Taxpayer Service Centers in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown and Zanesville. The Columbus center will remain open.
Workers in officers in in the Cleveland office told The Plain Dealer the closings are a mistake that will hurt taxpayers and hurt tax revenue.
But the tax department said the revenues are about half of the $7 million the state will save. Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said the offices have only a fraction of the calls and walk-in traffic they once did.
The move was "in the context of what we want to do with the budget as a whole," said Kasich"s spokesman, Rob Nichols. "We inherited an $8 billion budget hole. We had the seventh-highest taxes in the nation last year.
"This budget presents a spending blueprint that Ohio taxpayers can finally afford. We can't keep doing what we're doing and expect to succeed in this state."
Kasich"s promise was to shrink state government and make it more efficient. In light of the decision to close the tax service centers, a move that reduces the number of state employees and cuts spending, we move the Kasich-O-Meter on this promise to In the Works.
Ideastream, "Cut, Tax or Change: The Kasich Budget Challenge,” April 18, 2011
The Plain Dealer, "Gov. John Kasich says his 'jobs budget' is the most reform-minded in Ohio history,” March 15, 2011
The Plain Dealer, "State tax department closing 7 regional walk-in offices; 99 jobs eliminated," March 17, 2011
The Plain Dealer, "Closing Ohio tax offices will hurt individuals, businesses and state revenues, workers say," March 31, 2011
Interview with Rob Nichols, press secretary for Gov. Kasich, May 4, 2011
Ohio Legislative Service Commission, "The Ohio Budget Process," April 2011
John Kasich for Ohio campaign website, "What I Stand For"