Policy Matters Blog

On the air: Amy Hanauer talks about how to create shared prosperity

by Policy Matters Ohio on November 24th, 2015
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In guest appearances on public television and radio this past week, our director Amy Hanauer made the case for smart policies to help struggling families succeed and boost the economy. Amy faced off with Greg Lawson of the right-wing Buckeye Institute on The State of Ohio, arguing for a higher minimum wage and against an onerous bill that would make it much harder for Ohioans to get unemployment insurance. The debate starts at about 4:20 into the television program on The Ohio Channel. WCPN’s Sound of Ideas also invited Amy to discuss poverty on today’s show featuring Kathryn Edin, author of  “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” and Linda Tirado, author of “Hand to Mouth.”  During the program, Amy pointed to policies that could make life better for many families, including a higher minimum wage, improved child-care assistance, better public transit and continuation of federal tax credits for low-wage working families. (read more)

Here’s how bill would slash Ohio unemployment benefits

by Policy Matters Ohio on November 19th, 2015
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A bill introduced recently in the Ohio House would reduce unemployment benefits in Ohio – and the ability of workers to qualify for them – so that Ohio’s unemployment program would become among the most restrictive in the United States. House Bill 394 would slash the maximum number of weeks of unemployment compensation benefits from 26 to between 12 and 20. Right now, based on our unemployment rate, it would allow a maximum of just 12 weeks of benefits – last in the country, tied only with North Carolina. The legislation would also provide substantial tax cuts to employers, according to data provided by the bill sponsor, Rep. Barbara Sears. Policy Matters Ohio issued an initial statement on the bill last week and is providing this additional analysis of how the bill would make Ohio an outlier among states. (read more)

Plain Dealer op-ed: Strong policies help children flourish

by Policy Matters Ohio on November 2nd, 2015
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New online tools provide look into how policies affect Ohio family budgets. (read more)

The latest e-news: food aid, fracking and more

by Policy Matters Ohio on October 30th, 2015
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio….. (read more)

Better planning for a healthy economy

by Policy Matters Ohio on October 22nd, 2015
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When it comes to making plans important to building a strong economy, Ohio has a short attention span. Some states take a long-range view. When drawing up a state budget, for example, they include analysis of how their actions today will affect the state’s ability to meet obligations five years down the road. Ohio takes a shorter-term view. We generally don’t look beyond the two-year period covered by the biennial budget under discussion. We look further into the future only for changes that are specifically phased in or eliminated over more than two years’ time. Why is this important? Projecting how much revenue the state can expect to collect beyond the next couple of years enables policymakers to anticipate and respond to predictable changes – like the expiration of temporary taxes or the impact of inflation. (read more)

Kasich pressed to accept food aid for all hungry Ohioans

by Policy Matters Ohio on October 9th, 2015
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Governor Kasich’s decision to accept federal food aid for some struggling parts of Ohio but not others is drawing strong opposition from elected officials in the wake of a Policy Matters report that called attention to this inequity. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and others are urging Governor Kasich to accept expanded federal food aid for urban areas where thousands still struggle to find work. The Policy Matters report found that Ohio accepted what is known as a federal waiver of time limits on food assistance for only 18 mostly rural counties for 2016. Urban areas with large minority populations were left out, as were many other counties. Expanding the waiver request would help more hungry people in places where the local economy lags. (read more)

The not-so-worker-friendly Ohio budget

by Policy Matters Ohio on October 2nd, 2015
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Voters have shown overwhelmingly that they believe workers have a right to organize. Unfortunately, instead of using the state budget to help working families get ahead, lawmakers used the bill to pass policies that restrict Ohioans’ rights on the job. Here are three provisions that put workers further behind: Bars independent healthcare and childcare workers from organizing. Governor Strickland extended the right to collectively bargain to independent healthcare and childcare workers. Governor Kasich rescinded those orders. The state legislature used the budget process to legislatively bar those workers from engaging in collective bargaining. Not only will this hurt the labor rights of workers who protect the elderly, the disabled, and children, but it could also affect the quality of care provided to the state’s most vulnerable groups. (read more)

Ohio bowing to electric monopoly pressure

by Policy Matters Ohio on September 29th, 2015
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Ohio Senator Bill Seitz recently trumpeted forthcoming recommendations of a legislative committee to put Ohio’s clean-energy laws permanently on ice. Freezing Ohio clean-energy standards would be bad news for Ohio’s economy, jobs, electric consumers and the environment. But the Energy Mandates Study Committee appears ready to do just that in recommendations due tomorrow. The legislature created the committee when it voted in 2014 to temporarily freeze Ohio’s clean-energy standards and become the first state in the nation to do so. Now Seitz is publicly suggesting they intend to make that freeze permanent. Why would the state legislature want to permanently freeze the standards? Good question. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a very inspiring answer. FirstEnergy, Ohio’s largest electric monopoly, takes issue with Ohio’s clean-energy laws and has been fighting them for years. (read more)

Beyond the poverty rate: Census data shows policy choices matter

by Policy Matters Ohio on September 16th, 2015
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The census: How Ohio fares Full-time employment has rebounded to pre-recession levels, but new census data shows wages are so low that 1.4 million more workers are living in poverty compared to 2007. The data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau drives home the fact that U.S. workers are working hard but not making many gains. The data pertains to income, poverty and health insurance (there is good news on health insurance, but not so much on income and poverty). Here are three big things (and a slew of data points) that get us beyond the poverty rate, and into what we can do about it: 1. We are working hard, but not getting ahead. U.S. workers need a raise and, in most instances, a union. (read more)

Congress can help families make ends meet

by Policy Matters Ohio on September 14th, 2015
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More than ever, American families struggle to afford the basics, even though they’re working. Fortunately, Congress in 2009 expanded some tax credits that helped more of these working families. These credits bring billions of federal dollars into the Ohio economy. We have a chance to make them permanent. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two of our nation’s strongest anti-poverty tools. They  promote work and help families build a secure future. They let working people keep more of what they earn and provide the basics for their families. Nationwide, millions of families will sink deeper into poverty if Congress does not act. Recently released estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) show that if that happens, the budgets of 400,000 Ohio families will suffer. (read more)