Policy Matters Blog

Guest Blogger: This Fathers’ Day, support working fathers through the EITC

by Policy Matters Ohio on June 18, 2016
Calvin Williams Pic
As a father, I work hard to take care of my child. Even though I am not married to his mother, I’m still an important part of his life. I respect and love his mother, provide financial support, make sure his homework gets done, cheer from the sidelines at his basketball and baseball games, and give him sound advice when he faces challenges. As a fatherhood practitioner for over 20 years I’ve observed and worked with thousands of fathers who display the same passion and commitment to their children. As Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help thinking about low-income working fathers struggling to support their kids financially. A large majority of the fathers I’ve worked with are noncustodial parents. Like me, they provide financial and emotional support for their children, but they have difficulty making ends meet. (read more)

Ohio extends a lifeline to foster kids

by Policy Matters Ohio on June 14, 2016
Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.06.19 AM
As our state legislators broke for summer recess, they did good by aligning Ohio with dozens of other states that have extended services to foster kids until age 21. House Bill 50 provides for housing, educational and other assistance for the more than 1,000 Ohioans a year who age out of the system at 18. The services until age 21 also apply to kids adopted after age 16. In a powerful op-ed published last year, former Policy Matters research intern Brant Duda detailed the many risks faced by 18 year olds aging out of the foster system: Many go from foster care to homelessness and prison. Half don’t finish high school or earn an equivalency degree. Brant, a child-welfare advocate who pushed for the bill, knows the perils of being on your own at 18 with no supports. (read more)

Policy Matters op-ed: Taking care of the caretakers

by Policy Matters Ohio on June 6, 2016
home health workers (VA pic)
New federal labor rules aim to ensure home-care workers are paid fairly, but Ohio can do more to make sure the workers receive the wage and hour protections they deserve, our Wendy Patton writes in an op-ed on Cleveland.com. Society increasingly depends on home-care workers to help disabled and elderly loved ones. It’s one of the fastest-growing jobs, and a demanding one. Yet few states pay a living wage for home-care workers, Wendy writes. “Until the new rules were put in place, many states did not even pay them minimum wage.” The new rules protect home-care workers with a wage floor, time sheets and overtime pay – steps that will help stabilize the workforce and improve quality of care, she said. (read more)

High-flying startups don’t flock to low-tax states

by Policy Matters Ohio on May 31, 2016
They’re called unicorns, though they’re a little less rare than that. That’s what Wall Street calls private start-up companies whose investors value them at $1 billion or more. Best-known examples include such companies as Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat and Pinterest. Policy Matters Ohio took a look at where these companies are located, to see if state income taxes played a role (see graphic). By far the largest number – a whopping 55 of the 87 U.S.-based companies on a list compiled by the Wall Street Journal in April – are located in California. That state happens to have by far the highest top income-tax rate in the country, at 13.3 percent. Another 10 are in New York State, whose top rate of 8.82 percent ranks 6th highest in the nation, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. (read more)

GED reforms, movie madness, a jolting jobs report: News from Policy Matters

by Policy Matters Ohio on May 26, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.31.47 AM
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio… New path – Gov. John Kasich last week announced proposed reforms to the state’s troubled high school equivalency exam system. After Pearson Vue, the world’s largest private for-profit educational testing corporation, took over GED testing in Ohio, the company tripled the price of the test, switched the skills being assessed, and began requiring online registration, credit card payment and test-taking by computer. Passage rates tumbled by 85 percent. Our researcher Hannah Halbert, building off of terrific work by reporter Dan McGraw for Cleveland Scene, exposed the failing system in February. The governor just proposed adding two new high school equivalency-testing options for those who want a diploma, smart reforms that we agree with. (read more)

LGBT rights and the state economy

by Policy Matters Ohio on May 25, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 11.07.07 AM
In the wake of North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill, we’ve been hearing a lot about which bathroom transgender folks should have to use. What gets less attention are the jobs available to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, especially considering the same bill also eliminated all LGBT discrimination protections throughout the state. Ohio has often supported policies to protect workers, ensure good jobs, and promote a fair economy. Yet Ohio has no state laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That means LGBT people can legally be denied employment, housing and public services. Fortunately, dozens of Ohio cities and counties have passed LGBT anti-discrimination laws to protect workers, promote a better business climate, and improve the local economy. (read more)

Policy Matters op-ed: ‘Healthy Ohio’ plan is anything but

by Policy Matters Ohio on May 12, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 12.31.10 PM
The Ohio Legislature’s “Healthy Ohio” plan would hurt people who get their health care through Medicaid, and also endanger the financial stability of hospitals, Senior Project Director Wendy Patton said in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed. The plan would impose premiums and caps on coverage for Ohioans who are struggling to make ends meet. If the state gets its way and the federal government approves the proposal, it would allow Ohio to lock people out of Medicaid if they miss payments. “Despite the misleading name, it’s not healthy for Ohio. It will disrupt care, endanger the financial stability of our health system and lead to poor health outcomes,” Patton wrote. “Over the past 30 years, repeated studies have found that even modest increases in cost prevent poor people from seeing a doctor for preventive care for chronic conditions like schizophrenia, hypertension and diabetes. (read more)

Tax inequity, job growth and a Medicaid setback: News from Policy Matters

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 29, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.45.33 AM
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio… Saturday night live – When the Federal Reserve Bank raises interest rates, it often means hiring goes down, wages grow more slowly, and unemployment goes up. There are times when doing so still makes sense but is now one of them? Come to an event next Saturday night (yes, we know) to tell a top decision-maker at the Federal Reserve what you think about them putting the brakes on hiring and wage growth right now. Upside down tax system — Ohioans in the bottom fifth of the income scale last year paid about twice the share of their income in state and local taxes as the richest 1 percent. That cold, hard fact provided by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that the wealthiest Ohioans are not paying enough to support public services. (read more)

Still a problem: Foreclosures in Ohio

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 28, 2016
Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 12.13.19 PM
The number of new foreclosures in Ohio dropped last year, but remains well above previous levels. Foreclosures in Ohio fell 7.4 percent last year to 40,479, according to new data from the Ohio Supreme Court, the lowest number since 2000. The number of new filings at county courts across the state dropped for the sixth year in a row, to well under half the number in 2009. But we still have a ways to go before foreclosures return to what might be considered normal levels (see chart below). During the 1990s, the number of filings averaged 21,075 a year, or slightly over half the total in 2015. The number of foreclosures remains at least double 1995 levels in 73 of the state’s 88 counties and triple that of two decades ago in 42 counties, or almost half of Ohio. (read more)

Band-Aid solutions to state GED failure

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 27, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 4.02.45 PM
In this year’s State of the State, Ohio Governor John Kasich honored Margo Hudson, an adult literacy tutor from Cleveland who earned her GED on her sixth try in 2012. Margo is a lifelong learner and leader. Ohio needs many more people like her, but given the collapse of Ohio’s GED system, you have to wonder how many potential Margos are being left behind. A Policy Matters report in February documented barriers that caused the number of people passing the GED to plummet 85 percent, after Pearson VUE, the world’s largest for-profit education corporation, took over and made changes in 2014. The company tripled the cost to $120; began requiring online registration and test taking; and made the test more complex. (read more)