Be Honest

- January 28, 2014

In this week’s eNews: Why Ohio’s top-rated urban district and charter schools shouldn’t be compared to other urban schools; recommendations for a fair and adequate state tax system; a severance tax proposal that undervalues Ohio’s natural resources; continuing weak job growth; Inequality for All screening in Columbus.

Misleading – Urban schools that scored highest on state measures tend to enroll fewer children with disabilities, fewer poor students, and fewer minorities. Many enroll selectively, offer small class sizes, require applications or engage in other practices not available to all public schools. But comparisons that advocate replicating these top-rated schools tend to ignore the many differences between them and public schools that serve more disadvantaged populations. We urge advocates, reporters and policymakers to be honest about the challenges and avoid misleading comparisons.

Get smart – Our recommendations for a fair and adequate Ohio tax system include: maintaining and strengthening the state income tax; reviewing, eliminating and sunsetting tax expenditures; restoring the business share of Ohio taxes; and modernizing the system so it covers today’s economy.

Falling short – The proposed severance tax in House Bill 375 would shortchange Ohioans by undervaluing the state’s natural resources and granting up to $800 million over 10 years in breaks and exclusions to the oil and gas industry. The bill proposes the lowest rates and most generous provisions of three proposals considered during the past year. In recent testimony, we supported legislative efforts to develop a structure more in line with the growing industry.

Seesaw – Early numbers show that Ohio added 25,600 jobs in all of 2013. During economic recoveries of the 1980s and 1990s, the state often gained close to 100,000 jobs a year. In December, Ohio lost 9,500 state and local government jobs, but the private sector added enough workers to leave Ohio with an overall gain of 5,000 jobs for the month. Cutting taxes and reducing funding for essential programs and services is not helping Ohio. It’s time for new policies that can get us on the high road.

Come watch – Policy Matters is hosting a Columbus screening of the powerful Robert Reich documentary Inequality for All, which examines the effect of income inequality and our shrinking middle class on America’s economy and democracy. RSVP now to watch the movie at the Riffe Center in Columbus on Feb. 12, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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