Policy Matters Blog

Aged out and at risk

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 27th, 2015
As a research intern at Policy Matters Ohio, Brant Duda looked into expanding supports for foster-care youth to age 21. Brant brought a special perspective to the topic: He was a foster child who found himself on his own at age 18. Now pursuing a master’s degree in social work, Brant wrote an opinion piece weaving together his personal experience, the many risks faced by 18 year olds aging out of the foster system, and details about much-needed legislation (House Bill 50) that would bring Ohio in line with other states that provide services until age 21. His op-ed article appeared in The Plain Dealer Sunday and can be found here. “As a foster youth, becoming a legal adult meant I finally had choices over my life, and children’s services could no longer tell me what to do,” Brant wrote. (read more)

Big trouble ahead with trade deal

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 22nd, 2015
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The TPP stands for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a deal that is being negotiated between 12 countries, including the United States. If you’re worried about what NAFTA has done to the United States, you should be especially worried about the TPP. The deal would expand NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which would make it the largest free-trade agreement in history. Last week, Congress introduced a TPP Fast Track bill that is concerning. The TPP will have a huge effect on the offshoring of U.S. service and manufacturing jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, under NAFTA the nation lost nearly 700,000 jobs by 2010. Tariff cuts continuously result in trade deficits and a loss of jobs. Our safety regulations on food safety and labeling could be threatened by the TPP. (read more)

Zombie attack on labor

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 20th, 2015
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Ohioans sent an unambiguous message with the 2011 defeat of Senate Bill 5: Hands off our freedom to bargain! Yet, some lawmakers are attempting to resurrect long-dead collective bargaining attacks through new provisions added to the budget bill. Two zombie proposals were slipped into the 3,000+ pages of the budget proposal in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. Back from the dead is a proposal to restrict state agencies from requiring project labor agreements (PLAs). These agreements ensure that construction projects connected to state agencies use a skilled, local, and diverse workforce. PLAs are also useful on large construction projects where union and non-union contractors work the same site, by making sure the workers are treated the same way. The state budget is being used to pass this provision when similar stand-alone legislation has consistently failed in the General Assembly. (read more)

Guest blogger: County profiles underline hard times

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 17th, 2015
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The Center for Community Solutions has released a new series of county profiles that show an increase in poverty, food pantry use and Medicaid enrollment despite a strengthening economy. Ohio has been steadily increasing the number of jobs since 2010, but many counties still have fewer jobs than before the recession. Large areas are still experiencing high levels of joblessness, particularly in urban areas. Seven counties – Clinton, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, Summit, and Trumbull – still have employment levels more than 10,000 below their 2007 levels. Together, these counties have lost 136,000 jobs. Cuyahoga County alone lost 41,000 jobs. Clinton County is especially alarming – at 16,000 jobs, its employment level is 42 percent below where it was in 2007. (read more)

More of the same bad tax policy

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 16th, 2015
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A new state budget bill now being heard in the Ohio House Finance Committee would cut the state income tax by 6.3 percent, while expanding an existing tax break for business owners. The House budget bill, as it stands now, eliminates nearly all of the major tax increases Gov. Kasich had put forward, and scales back his proposed income-tax cuts and business tax break. But in so doing, it would increase the net state tax cut by nearly half, to $1.2 billion over two years. Cutting the income tax is not smart policy for Ohio. Much of the gains go to the most affluent, and poor and middle-income residents see little (stay tuned for more details on that soon). It leaves the state more dependent on the slower-growing sales tax, and could prove risky: Tax cuts enacted in 2005 and phased in over five years helped create a fiscal crisis six years later, as the recession also pounded state revenues. (read more)

Standing up for fair wages

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 15th, 2015
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Tax Day rallies around the country are calling attention to wage inequality and the need to raise the minimum wage. Rallies in some 200 cities are “the biggest ever mobilization” by organizers to raise the minimum wage, the Huffington Post reports. Low-wage workers rallying in Cleveland included adjunct professors — part-time college faculty members who have joined the “Fight for 15” movement. The educators, students, home-care workers and others demonstrated at Cleveland State University today (pictured right). Increasing the minimum wage would reduce inequality, keep workers out of poverty and help power our economy. Policy Matters Ohio research has found that Ohio’s largest job categories pay so little that many workers and their families are eligible for and need public assistance. (read more)

Brewer crying in its beer over losing discount for on-time tax payments

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 13th, 2015
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MillerCoors has a gripe about its taxes. Every year, the company saves $350,000 because, like other brewers, beer importers and wholesale dealers, it gets a 3 percent credit for paying its Ohio alcoholic beverage taxes about three weeks in advance of when they’re otherwise due. Yes, you read that right. Gov. Kasich has proposed eliminating that credit, and a similar discount for wine, as part of his tax plan. And that has MillerCoors concerned. The company objected to Kasich’s tax plan in testimony to the House Ways & Means Committee. Incredibly, if a beer permit holder doesn’t manage to qualify for the 3 percent credit by paying its tax by the 18th of the month, it can still qualify for a smaller discount if it pays the tax when it’s due, by the 10th of the following month. (read more)

A tax break to nowhere

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 10th, 2015
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Next week, a new version of the two-year state budget will be introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. One of the many items worth watching: What happens to a new, $350 million-a-year tax break for business owners proposed by Gov. Kasich. It would wipe out the state income tax for owners of businesses with $2 million or less in annual receipts and who pay that tax on their companies’ profits (See our April 9 report here). Interestingly, some of Ohio’s major business associations, including the state chamber of commerce and the Ohio Manufacturers Association, have lined up against the Kasich tax plan, and voiced criticism of the new business tax break Companies might seek to organize their businesses into multiple entities to avoid exceeding the $2 million threshold, said Ernst & Young, which studied the plan at the initiation of the Coalition of the Ohio Metro Chambers of Commerce. (read more)

A disconnect to economic opportunity

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 7th, 2015
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A majority of poor people and minorities now live in the suburbs—isolated from jobs, services and the transportation needed to access them—according a recent report from the Brookings Institution. The report, entitled “The Growing Distance Between People and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” also shows the Cleveland metropolitan area is the worst offender in the country when it comes to declining job density and longer commutes. Between 2000 and 2012, there was a 26.5 percent decline in the number of jobs in the Cleveland metro area near the typical resident. Dayton and Toledo metros are also on the top-ten offender list. Why does job proximity matter? Given Ohio’s sorry state of public transit, commuters are forced to rely on cars to get around, and cars are expensive—expensive to own and expensive to operate and maintain. (read more)

Ohio leads the trailing twelve

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 3rd, 2015
The majority of states have added back the total number of jobs they lost to the 2007 recession. This is good news as we approach our sixth year of recovery. Unfortunately, Ohio isn’t among them. Ohio leads the twelve states that are yet to recover the total number of jobs lost to the 2007 recession. According to the most recent jobs data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, covering February 2015, the state is still off the mark by 0.6 percent, or a little more than 32,000 jobs. The nation as a whole has added back all the jobs lost and an additional 2.0 percent. That’s more than 2 million jobs. Much of Ohio’s tax and budget policy is based on the premise that lower taxes and less government spending generates faster job growth. (read more)