the Beacon Journal editorial board

Five years ago, Republicans at the Statehouse eliminated the estate tax. They did so in tandem with reducing income tax rates in Ohio, attaching the promise of accelerated growth and job creation. The state has added jobs in recent years, though at a pace that lags behind the national average, barely recovering to the level before the Great Recession.

More evident with the end of the estate tax has been the financial squeeze on cities and other local governments. The estate tax long served as a key revenue source for communities. More, its demise followed other fiscal blows delivered by Gov. John Kasich and fellow Republicans, most notably, deep reductions in the Local Government Fund.

Now comes a study from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that highlights just what has been lost by the change, Ohio joined by other states. Those funds helped to support local services and programs, from police forces to street repair, neighborhoods to the arts. The study projects that a reinstated estate tax in Ohio and other states where it has been eliminated would raise an additional $3 billion to $6 billion a year.

Consider that the city of Akron lost roughly $4 million annually. What a difference the restoration of those funds would make for Mayor Dan Horrigan and the City Council now facing tough decisions about where to find savings. An investment in services and quality of life makes the city a more attractive place to live, work and play, or locate a business.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looked at what restoring the tax on estates in Ohio of more than $1 million would generate in revenue. It arrived at $320 million a year.

As Policy Matters Ohio noted in amplifying on the study, few would be affected, or less than 2 percent of the estates across the state. A $2 million estate would pay around $65,000, or an effective rate of around 3 percent.

That hardly qualifies as confiscatory, especially in view of another benefit of the estate tax cited by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The tax reduces income inequality. The overwhelming majority of Ohioans would never pay the tax, including many families with farms and businesses. The overall tax system would be more equitable.

That is something Ohio could use. As it is, those at the middle and lower income rungs pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than those near or at the top.

What are the chances of the governor and his legislative allies restoring the estate tax in any form? Well, zero. That doesn’t erase the value of the study. It offers a standard against which to assess work at the Statehouse. It is a comparison worth weighing as you drive the streets of Akron.