Ohio has experienced a decade of disinvestment. The numbers tell the story. For instance, state spending on higher education declined 20 percent from 2008 to 2018 in inflation-adjusted dollars. For human services, the decrease was 13 percent; for transportation, down 42 percent; for local governments, 46 percent. The state upped its spending on primary and secondary schools — yet by just 5 percent in real dollars for the decade.

Mike DeWine recognizes the problem. In March, the governor unveiled his proposed two-year state budget plan by stressing: “We had tax cuts over the last eight years. There is a place and a time for everything, and this is a time and place to invest in Ohio and Ohioans.”

Actually, the tax-cutting of his fellow Republicans goes back 14 years, individual income tax rates reduced roughly one-third since then. In line with his words, the governor proposed a budget plan with no tax cuts, boosting spending for such items as need-based college aid, children services and legal representation for indigent defendants. He directed a substantial and crucial new sum to poor school districts, rural and urban.

The House followed his lead, even investing larger amounts in some areas. Yet the Republican majority couldn’t resist. It included another state income tax cut, a rate reduction of 6.6 percent. Now, the Senate, in presenting its plan on Tuesday, has gone even larger, proposing an income tax cut of 8 percent during the biennium. More, the chamber would retreat from a worthy House effort to narrow an unproductive and costly tax break for business income.

The tax break applies to “pass through” income, or profits taxed as individual income as they flow to business owners. Currently, such owners, including partnerships, limited liability corporations and sole proprietorships, pay no tax on the first $250,000 in income. Any applicable income above that threshold also receives favorable treatment, taxed at a lower 3 percent rate (while others pay at nearly 5 percent). The House called for lowering the threshold to $100,000 and eliminating the lower rate.

Many business groups howled, and the Senate has responded. Its plan keeps the threshold at a quarter-million while ending the sweet rate on additional earnings. The pitch for this tax break continues to emphasize spurring small businesses and job creation. Yet research reveals little connection to growth or jobs. What is apparent is that many beneficiaries have no intention of adding positions or expanding as a result.

Still, they pay much less in taxes than those with income earned as employees of a business.

As it is, this tax break costs $1.2 billion a year. Both the House and Senate would reduce its size. Yet each would deliver a net tax cut, the House $100 million annually and the Senate $300 million. How might those dollars be better used? Consider that the Senate budget plan lacks the $20 million the governor proposed for a home visitation program that has proved successful in helping parents in poverty raise their children. The Senate does propose a $10 million increase in the Local Government Fund. Yet the sum verges on insulting given the needs of cities and counties.

The state’s colleges and universities wouldn’t gain ground, and neither would the priority of early education. The state could generate adequate resources for poor schools and growing districts. The budget process is headed toward a conference committee where differences will be massaged, the budget due by June 30. The state would benefit if the outcome tilts toward the thinking of the governor. This isn’t a time for more tax cuts. It’s a time for investing in Ohio and Ohioans.