Breaking Bad

- July 2, 2013
Affluence rewarded – Research Director Zach Schiller worked with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy to show that the state budget just passed will reward Ohio’s most affluent with average annual tax cuts of more than $6,000 a year, while low-income Ohioans will pay slightly more.
Breaking bad – Rather than closely reviewing the 129 tax exemptions, deductions and credits that reduce the amount of revenue the state would otherwise receive, Ohio’s General Assembly used the new budget to add more, according to our report  “Breaking Bad: Ohio tax breaks escape scrutiny.” It gets worse – despite the repeal of taxes that should have cut 44 tax expenditures, the number of these breaks isn’t much lower now than it was 10 years ago.
Protecting the elderly – Ohio’s dependence on federal funding for Adult Protective Services has been unusually high compared to other states. Now automatic federal cuts (the sequester) are going to take a bite, endangering many services needed to protect older Ohioans. So far, Ohio policymakers have not made the relatively small investment needed in this area, according to our report,  “Protecting Older Ohioans.”
Sequester stomps state – Ohio stands to lose $184 million in 2013 relative to 2012 as a result of changes in federal appropriations and the sequester, according to  our latest analysis of the automatic cuts. Unfortunately, the state’s General Assembly missed an opportunity to soften the sequester’s impact as it finalized the budget.
Severance tax now! – Oil and gas industries permanently remove, or sever, precious resources from the land that can be taken only once. That’s why Policy Matters  supports responsible efforts to tax horizontal drilling, or fracking, in Ohio. As such, House Bill 212 presents an opportunity to ensure that Ohio’s natural resources create wealth today and underwrite progres for the future.
Right direction – After a year of almost zero job growth,  Ohio added 32,100 jobs in May, the largest month-to-month gain the state has made since 1999. This is welcome news, but it’s smart to take these monthly numbers, provided by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, with a grain of salt. The big picture: Ohio still needs more than 200,000 jobs to make up for losses during the recent recession.

Closer look needed –  Kalitha Williams presented testimony before an Ohio House committee about wrong-headed legislation that weakens regulation of debt-settlement, allowing lenders to prey on working families in Ohio. Wendy Patton told another committee that  Ohio’s enterprise zone program helped move jobs and investment awayfrom distressed communities, the opposite of what it was designed to do. Policymakers should carefully examine Senate Bill 112, rather than simply extend it again, she advised.

Megadeals – Ohio is tied at third in the nation for the number of giant economic development subsidy packages it has awarded, with 12 megadeals doled out at a cost of more than $1.5 billion. These kinds of deals are happening more often in recent years, according to a  new report by Good Jobs First.

Check that plan – Mayoral sponsorship of charter schools in Columbus will add bureaucracy, weaken accountability and cloud transparency even as local civic leaders seek to streamline administration.  Proposals included in the Columbus Plan are built on quick fixes and trendy ideas, not the sustainable solutions students, parents and families in Columbus need, according to our statement.
Disclose, disclose, disclose – Tax preparation by commercial firms, despite being important to many households, lacks transparency around fees. Much more regulation is needed, but  this new report recommends that, at a minimum, states and localities require paid tax preparers to prominently display a disclosure box that clearly spells out charges for services provided.

Fare thee well
 – We will miss project director David Rothstein who moves on to a new job at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland after nearly ten years at Policy Matters. Generous, kind, smart and diligent, David will thrive wherever he goes. May the wind always be at his back.
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