As this summer’s facility tour season (tour-a-palooza) ends, I want to thank our members for their engaging visits with legislators and local officials. I also appreciate legislators making time to learn more about Ohio’s beverage industry. Whether we walked around production facilities or distribution centers, great conversations on workforce development, calorie management and Ohio’s business climate took place around the state.
These conversations, particularly on Ohio’s competitiveness, will join other business voices heading into 2017’s state biennial budget work. As a member of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s tax committee, I have participated in several discussions on tax reform. Our committee is very aware of looming budget pressures—from a projected $1 billion shortfall to increased interest in a “flat tax” for Ohio’s personal income tax (PIT).
But stepping away from theoretical discussions into the real world of our member operations gives me and our state legislators an opportunity to see how beverage companies continually reinvest in capital improvements, workforce training and productivity improvements. Budget discussions will inevitably include “pay fors” if legislators want to further reduce PIT and shore up budget holes. During the last biennial budget, proposals around extending Ohio’s sales tax to business and professional services surfaced. This expansion would have generated additional tax dollars to fund deeper PIT cuts.
Our members, like most businesses, opposed this sales tax base expansion as a very costly “business to business” pyramiding tax. If this idea resurfaces, OSDA will work again, with the Ohio Chamber and others to educate legislators on the anti-competitive nature of business to business taxes. Our work this summer has added to legislators’ knowledge base but we will stay vigilant as budget ideas emerge. Our members believe Ohio is a great place to do business, and we are interested in a stable, predictable business climate for that to continue.