The sales tax expansion in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s state budget proposal is now off the table as the budget process continues toward final approval before the start of the state’s fiscal year July 1. The 5 percent sales tax expansion on services in the state would have included veterinary services. The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), as well as other professional associations, actively opposed the measure.
The Ohio House of Representatives approved the budget--House Bill 59--shedding the sales tax expansion in April before sending it to the Senate. According to the OVMA, state Senate leadership does not intend to reinsert it. However, the OVMA is confident that the sales tax expansion will continue to be explored outside the budget process.
“To that end, the OVMA has joined a broad coalition of professional and business groups to provide specific and substantive economic data on the negative impact to consumers and businesses alike of the expanding sales tax,” wrote Michelle Holdgreve, OVMA government relations director, in the May/June issue of the association’s publication, The Observer.
The OVMA and others in opposition believe an expanded sales tax would increase costs, negatively affect customers’ purchasing habits and further “weaken already ‘soft’ economic conditions for veterinary services,” OVMA Executive Director Jack Advent said in testimony to the House Finance and Appropriations committee March 19.
He said that 84 percent of veterinary practice owners had seen a moderate to significant impact from the recession on their businesses and that 29 percent of dog owners and 22 percent of cat owners did not visit a veterinarian in 2011 because of cost. “A 2010 Ohio State University study found veterinary facilities employ over 12,000 individuals in Ohio and contribute $1.1 billion to Ohio’s economy,” Advent said in his testimony. “If the pet-owning public, which comprises 56 percent of households, reduce or redirect to another state their use of veterinary services, economic growth and job production in veterinary medicine is not just stymied, it is put in jeopardy.”
The OVMA is encouraging its members to continue its grassroots efforts to oppose sales tax expansion in Ohio.