Policy Matters Blog

A tax break for hiring temps? Give us a break

by Policy Matters Ohio on February 11, 2016
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Growing use of temporary workers has benefitted corporations at the expense of workers, who often earn low wages and have no benefits or job security. Yet instead of trying to help workers get ahead, Ohio legislators are considering giving a $131 million tax break to corporations that use temporary labor. The Ohio House Economic and Workforce Development Committee is hearing testimony on House Bill 343, legislation that would give this sales tax break to corporations that hire temporary workers. This new and significant giveaway would add tax advantages to the windfall corporations already garner when they shed some of the costs of a traditional employment relationship, like sick leave, vacation and/or health insurance (Check out our testimony to lawmakers). A lot of Ohioans are in the temporary labor market – 117,000 in 2014.   (read more)

Ohio’s investment in kids falls short

by Policy Matters Ohio on February 5, 2016
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Early childhood education helps kids thrive in school, helps parents work, and employs teachers in our still-slow economy. Yet preschool and childcare funding in Ohio seem perpetually stuck in second class. Children of low-income families here are much less likely to be enrolled in publicly funded preschool or childcare than in other states, our latest report shows. The analysis by Senior Project Director Wendy Patton finds that state funding increased in the 2016-2017 budget. That’s great. But adjusted for inflation, Ohio is behind where it was earlier in the decade. Even counting this year’s funding boost, Ohio still has fewer preschool spaces for low-income kids than other large states. As a result, we’re behind in developing future learners and workers. The Columbus Dispatch reported on the trend this week, noting that Ohio’s $60 million allocation for early childhood education this year pales in comparison to Illinois ($314 million), Georgia ($321 million) and Michigan ($243 million). (read more)

Tax credit vital to helping low-wage families pay the bills

by Policy Matters Ohio on January 29, 2016
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What if we told you that the federal government helps 1 million working Ohio families, sends $2.3 billion into our local economies, and that you might be eligible for this help? The Earned Income Tax Credit does all that and more. Today is National EITC Awareness Day, which kicks off the tax season and reminds working families to claim this phenomenal benefit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is the nation’s most powerful anti-poverty program. Unfortunately, nearly one in five families who are eligible fail to claim the credit. The EITC provides a much-needed income boost to working Ohio families. According to the 2016 Assets and Opportunities Scorecard, a staggering 44 percent of Ohioans don’t have enough cash savings to cover basic expenses for three months if they experience a sudden job loss or other loss of income. (read more)

The latest e-news: Hashtags, hiring and more

by Policy Matters Ohio on January 25, 2016
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A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio… #Nation’sWorst – Research Director Zach Schiller exposed an egregious assault on unemployment compensation that would make Ohio’s system one of the worst in the country in many ways, slashing benefits, hacking eligibility, and cutting employer taxes. Zach’s and researcher Hannah Halbert’s dogged reporting on House Bill 394 – the worst anti-worker bill since the SB5 attack on collective bargaining – sparked statewide news coverage. Major daily newspapers editorialized against the bill, some more than once. Our allies at Advocates for Ohio’s Future and in the labor movement testified and issued phenomenal action alerts. Opponents created a hashtag #StartOver394. The backlash slowed the bill, and led lawmakers to make several amendments. But this will be a train wreck if Ohio families don’t derail it. (read more)

Lingering damage from recession-era budget cuts

by Policy Matters Ohio on January 6, 2016
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State spending in the new two-year budget increases by 9.3 percent, or $4.2 billion, without accounting for inflation. This is an improvement, but the increase masks grim realities that leave Ohio behind in funding for critical needs. Accounting for inflation, state spending through 2017 is no higher than it was a decade earlier, when the recession began. The Kasich administration has not fully restored deep cuts made during the recession years. Instead, Ohio has slashed taxes, mainly benefitting the wealthy. The administration has made good investments in some key areas for 2016-17, such as health care. But we remain far behind in funding for work supports, post-secondary education and early learning, even with the modest improvements of the current budget. Between 2008 and 2017, Ohio weathered recession and recovery. (read more)

Ohio’s underachieving support of higher education

by Policy Matters Ohio on December 23, 2015
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Ohio is underinvesting in higher education. We’re behind where we were during the recession, adjusting for inflation. We have not put enough into classroom instruction and operations. We spend $309 million less in this budget on need-based financial aid than we did in 2008-2009. This is cheating our own future. (see our report: High tuition, low aid, too little state investment) A skilled workforce is an essential component of a prosperous and inclusive state economy. Attaining a degree or other credential has obvious benefits to graduates and their families. Higher education insulates against unemployment and can be a pathway out of the low-wage economy. Funding for higher education is linked to increases in productivity, increased wages and a more adaptable labor force. (read more)

Ohio newspapers pan unemployment compensation bill

by Policy Matters Ohio on December 22, 2015
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Since the introduction of Ohio House Bill 394, the bill that would slash unemployment benefits and make it harder to get them, two dozen witnesses have opposed it in oral or written testimony to the House Insurance Committee. That has given its backers pause, at least to the point that the committee – and the House – did not act on it this year. But the opposition goes beyond the health and human service advocates, the labor unions, the anti-poverty organizations, the civil libertarians and others who have outlined the numerous defects in the bill. Eight newspapers have run editorials about House Bill 394, and all of them have found it wanting. “Its ideas for needed change primarily include slashing benefits to jobless workers and making it harder to receive even that reduced compensation, without permanently solving the system’s problems,” said the Toledo Blade. (read more)

FirstEnergy deal protects profits, not Ohio consumers

by Policy Matters Ohio on December 11, 2015
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In a surprise reversal, staff at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio signed on last week to a settlement in utility giant FirstEnergy’s latest rate plan. The plan, which includes an arrangement to have Ohio consumers subsidize two plants FirstEnergy says are at risk of closure, has been widely critiqued as a bailout. Responding to opponents, a PUCO administrative judge set new hearings in the case this week. At the center of the plan is a complicated scheme to bypass the competitive market – because two outdated FirstEnergy plants can’t produce electricity at a competitive rate. The PUCO would allow the company to sell electricity to its own distribution utilities for a guaranteed rate, with consumers picking up the difference. (read more)

Protections, finally, for a system built on broken labor law

by Policy Matters Ohio on December 10, 2015
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New rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor will stabilize the home-care industry by extending wage and hour protections to the dedicated, often low-wage employees who take care of our parents and our relatives with disabilities. Delayed by lawsuits, these new rules have now been recognized as the law of the land. But home-care workers, employers and patients alike are worried about how they will be affected. The Fair Labor Standards Act is the law that requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage and to pay overtime after 40 hours of work in a week. You might have thought that every American was entitled to these most basic standards, but some employees have always been left behind. (read more)

The childcare conundrum

by Policy Matters Ohio on December 9, 2015
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The affordability of childcare for low-income families is receiving deserved attention, but costs are so high that the ability to pay for high-quality care is a middle-class problem as well. It’s good to see more focus on early childhood development. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has proposed investing $10 million in pre-kindergarten programs, while Cleveland news organizations are teaming up on a year-long project exploring the importance of the first 2,000 days of a child’s life. With regard to childcare, however, our public policies remain weak. Policy Matters has written several reports, including Childcare cliffs, canyons and cracks, which explores how Ohio’s childcare aid system no longer works for families in today’s unstable economy. The churning labor market of low-wage, temporary jobs and relentless plant and office closures bounce parents in and out of jobs and kids in and out of the childcare program. (read more)