Like most states, Ohio is feeling the crunch of the economic down turn. To help balance the budget, Governor Ted Strickland has proposed hiking 120 state fees. These higher fees will add $925 million to Ohio’s coffers and help balance Governor Strickland’s new 2 year budget of $55 billion.
But are these fee hikes fair? Will these increases help the economy or make it worse?
Some of the proposed hikes won’t hurt the economy because they are so small or don’t affect us on a yearly basis. For instance, the annual boiler inspection fee is going from $45 to $50. Driver’s license vision screening (done every 4 years) is going from $1 to $2. Temporary automobile tag fees will rise from $10 to $15. The tire disposal fee is going from $1 to $3.30 per tire. The cost of ordering a birth or death certificate is $5. The new fee will be $21.50. While no one likes to see a hike of any kind, these types of rate adjustments don’t affect everyone and won’t hurt most people in the long run.
There are some agricultural fees that will be passed along to consumers. The license to feed treated garbage to pigs is going from $50 to $100. The meat processing plant registration fee is going from $50 to $100. The small livestock dealer registration is going from no fee to $25. The fees aren’t that much and only need to be paid once a year, but somehow – someway these fees will be incorporated into what you pay at the market for your ham at Easter.
Mortgage broker application fees are going from $300 to $500. Security Fees Investment Adviser fees are going from $50 to $100. The cost of doing business will be passed on to you, the consumer.
While some of these increases are going to have Ohioans digging deeper into their pockets at the grocery store and when buying a home, other fees could have been raised higher to help prevent crime, injury and death.
The child booster seat fine is being raised from $25 to $50 for the first offense and from $50 to $100 for subsequent offenses. Why not make it $100 for the first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses? A child booster seat will save your child’s life in an accident. If that isn’t reason enough to use one, the thought of a $100-$200 fine will be.
Ohio law currently only allows police officers to ticket a person for seat belt violations if pulled over for another traffic violation. The new law, if approved, would allow police to stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt and issue a ticket. This sounds like a win/win law to me.
Court costs are going from $15 to $20 for misdemeanors and $15 to $20 for felonies. A good way to take the bite out of crime would be to raise those court cost for misdemeanors to $100 and felonies to $200. A person would think twice if they knew disorderly conduct would lead to a fine plus $100 court cost.
Along with the fee hikes, Governor Strickland wants pay freezes and/or cuts to all state employees. This includes an $8600 pay cut to himself. As much as we all hate the thought of fee hikes, at least we have a Governor who is willing to do his part during this economic crisis.
Don’t you wish the Federal Government would do the same?