Columbus is currently abuzz with the “lame duck.” By all accounts, the origin of the phrase “lame duck” is 18th century London. It referred to, quite literally, a duck who could not keep up with the rest of the ducks in its flock. It was then quickly adapted to work as an insult used to describe a person who didn’t make good on his debts.
Having crossed the pond and arrived in common usage in the United States over the next few centuries, it now ironically refers to the period following an election when those who have lost their elections, been term-limited out of office, or opted not to seek re-election nonetheless have a final chance to make an impact on legislation before the newly-elected replacements are sworn into service.
As Ohio’s General Assembly works through its lame duck session for a final push, one of the most important pieces of legislation it will consider is the completely un-sexy, but desperately necessary, reform of Ohio’s broken municipal income tax system.
Ohio’s municipal income tax system is the ”most complicated, absurd, and punitive” in the country. It is a primary reason that Ohio ranks 44th (that’s right, 6th from the bottom!) in the Tax Foundation’s 2015 state business tax index. Thinking back to the origin of the phrase in jolly old England, the real lame duck here is our municipal income tax system.
Strong medicine is necessary, with bold changes required to get our state back on track to compete with the rest of the strong and healthy ducks who surround Ohio. Buckeye’s policy analyst, Greg R. Lawson, recently published a report and offered legislative testimony suggesting improvements to the current municipal income tax bill that underscore the need to make Ohio’s municipal income tax system ”simpler, more uniform, and more equitable for small businesses.”
Lame duck sessions are notorious for producing bills that host all kinds of special interest goodie giveaways that don’t redound to taxpayers’ benefit. This time, let’s work together to keep the General Assembly focused on healing the lame duck municipal income tax system so it can keep up with the rest of the ducks who are flying ahead of us and leaving us behind in Ohio.