Ohio CPAs are mixed on their view of the state's business climate, according to a poll of 650 CPAs commissioned by the Ohio CPA Society.
About a third of CPAs surveyed (32 percent) feel that Ohio's overall business climate is improving, while almost the same number (34 percent) label it as declining. The same percentage (34 percent) expect the climate to stay the same, according to the annual State of Ohio Business Poll, conducted by outside polling firm Opinion Strategies Inc.
According to the respondents, the economy is and will continue to be an issue. In terms of top-of-mind concerns, the economy garnered 61 percent of the respondents' vote. Education was a distant second at 15 percent, followed by health care and post 9/11 national security, tied at 9 percent each, with government waste cited by 6 percent. Crime drew a mention from only 1 percent.
While the economy is a major concern, 54 percent of those polled say that the state's economy had improved in comparison to last year, while 30 percent feel that it was unchanged, and 17 percent describe it as worse.
The 2004 results echo CPAs' concerns in 2003, when the overall opinion about the state's business environment was largely negative. One-third of those polled evaluate the economy as poor, compared to 27 percent in 2003, while half term it fair, compared to 52 percent in 2003. Eighteen percent characterize it as good this year, similar to 2003. No one describes it as excellent, in comparison to 2003 when 1 percent used this characterization.
However, looking ahead to 2005, Ohio's CPAs are more optimistic, with 63 percent predicting improvement in the economy and only 8 percent forecasting worse conditions. Almost a third expect no change in the economy.
Most respondents (50 percent) predict that capital investments will stay at current levels in 2005, while 37 percent estimate that they will rise next year. Only 13 percent say that capital expenditures will shrink. Nearly half of the society members surveyed expect job expansion in 2005, while only one-tenth predict fewer jobs.
The CPAs polled outline three key policy areas as critical to making Ohio more competitive: tort reform, repeal of the state's one-cent sales tax and comprehensive tax reform. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) say that the penny increase in Ohio sales tax should sunset on July 1, 2005, as current law provides, while one-fifth seek to make the increase permanent. The vast majority, 88 percent, say that the state government should cut spending further before increasing taxes on business.
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