Statehouse Republicans have a point when they note that wealthier Ohioans benefit most from income tax cuts because they pay larger amounts in taxes. They have made this argument repeatedly in crafting the new two-year $62 billion state budget now on the governor’s desk.

The spending plan features a 10 percent reduction in income tax rates, achieved over three years. That’s on top of the 21 percent reduction enacted in 2005. Add the reductions together, and Ohioans will see rates fall by one-third the past decade. What Republican lawmakers, and Gov. John Kasich rarely, if ever, cite is that households at the highest income rungs in Ohio and elsewhere have enjoyed a practical monopoly on income gains the past three decades and especially in the wake of the recession. Their incomes have climbed steadily, while those of most others have stagnated.

That is part of the larger context for assessing the new tax cuts, including an additional reduction for small business owners. An analysis for Policy Matters Ohio by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the top 1 percent of households, earning at least $335,000, would receive an annual tax cut of more than $6,000 on average. Those in the middle-fifth, with earnings of $33,000 to $51,000, would get a tax cut of $3. And the bottom fifth? Their overall taxes would increase by $12 a year.

Know that these sums from the analysis involve other components of the tax package in the budget plan, including a higher rate for the state sales tax, from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent. The governor and allies argue that the state will benefit from this shifting of the tax burden from income to consumption. They contend that reducing the income tax will unleash the state economy.

Actually, as Michael Mazerov of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown in much depth, the academic research fails to support such claims. He concludes: “There simply is no consensus whatsoever that cutting taxes is a good strategy to boost state economic growth and create jobs.”

The budget debate has included many instances of Republican lawmakers comparing Ohio favorably with its neighbors, in particular, touting the this state’s lower jobless rate (7 percent). Worth adding is that Indiana, at 8.5 percent unemployment, has a flat income tax rate of 3.4 percent. The story is the same for Michigan and Pennsylvania, higher unemployment, lower flat income tax rate. At the start of this year, Ohio had a top rate of 5.92 percent for its progressive income tax.

And Minnesota? Its jobless rate is 5.3 percent, while its top income tax rate is 7.85 percent.

To be sure, these numbers hardly tell all. Where economists do find consensus is the importance of investing in the foundation of a state economy, in public works and people, from education to health care. That is what troubles about the priorities in this and recent state budgets, additional tax cuts for those already doing well, when the vast majority of Ohioans would benefit from such things as stronger classrooms and lower college tuition.