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Report Busts Migration Myth: Cutting Taxes Won’t Keep Buckeyes in Ohio.

August 11, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Cutting taxes won't keep residents of the Buckeye State from leaving, according to a new report.

The migration argument recently was used in Ohio as a rationale to repeal the state estate tax. However, report co-author Jon Shure, director of state fiscal strategies for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says higher state taxes bring more revenue, not more out-migration.

"They make it sound like as soon as states raise taxes for anybody, especially the wealthiest people, there'll be a caravan of BMWs and Lexuses leaving the state because they're being asked to pay a couple cents more per dollar in their income."

That's revenue Shure says is needed to build strong communities, through investments in things such as schools, roads, environmental protections and public safety.

Few Americans move between states, according to the report. When it does happen, Shure says, the primary reasons include housing costs, job opportunities, family considerations and even weather.

"Taxes play a really tiny role. I don't think Ohio can do much to change the weather, so what they need to do is invest in the building blocks of job creation and a strong economy."

With a weak economic recovery, Shure says, state policymakers should not let false claims about taxes and migration shape their decisions.

"People need to make decisions about priorities, about how to invest in things we need. To the extent that some states are refusing to consider this because they're believing this myth, that needs to stop."

The report cites several examples of research debunking the migration myth and, through case studies, shows how misinformation about the impact of taxes on migration can influence policymakers.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a Washington-based nonpartisan, nonprofit policy research organization. Its full report is online at cbpp.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH