Policy Matters Blog

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

by Policy Matters Ohio on May 26, 2016
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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)

By the numbers: Ohio earns poor grades in early-childhood funding

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 14, 2016
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It’s great to see more attention focused on early-childhood education. It’s terrific that Cleveland media organizations are partnering on Cleveland Connects: The First 2,000 Days, an initiative focused on the importance of quality preschool. But the numbers tell a story of statewide neglect. Ohio spending on public preschool and childcare is far behind other states. Quality preschool and childcare is unaffordable for many families. Ohio has the means to invest more, but our leaders choose not to. The state has instead given large tax cuts to the wealthy – money that could and should be used to educate and care for our children. (read more)

Wealthy not paying fair share of state and local taxes

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 11, 2016
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State and local taxes support schools, fix potholes, keep the snow plowed, the justice system running and the water clean. Economic prosperity depends on these public services. The wealthiest families benefit amply from our communities and state. But are they paying their fair share for these benefits? New data says they are not. In 2015, average tax filers in Ohio in the bottom fifth of the income scale paid just about twice the percentage of their income in state and local taxes as the richest 1 percent (see figure to the right). That’s according to new data provided to Policy Matters Ohio by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a national research group with a sophisticated model of the tax system. (read more)

Guest blogger: Here’s why Ohio should leave Medicaid alone

by Policy Matters Ohio on April 8, 2016
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This week, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) initiated the process of making it more difficult for low-income Ohioans to keep Medicaid coverage. Medicaid was created to provide health care for people who are too poor to afford necessary medical services. It helps them get healthier and with better health, be more productive. It moves people to independence. But Ohio is about to make it harder for Medicaid to serve these purposes. The state budget bill signed by Gov. John Kasich directed ODM to apply for a waiver for the so-called “Healthy Ohio” plan. The plan would shift over 1 million Ohioans enrolled in Medicaid into a new program that imposes premiums on adults earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,394 for a single person without dependents). (read more)

Fair Share is Fair

by Policy Matters Ohio on March 29, 2016
Fair share is fair. That was the finding of an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court, which today issued a one-sentence decision that upheld nearly 40 years of legal precedent and the right of public sector workers to collectively bargain. No worker can be forced to join a union even though the benefits of a union contract extend to all the workers in the bargaining unit. Those workers who do not want to be full members pay a fair share fee. This ensures that such covered employees who receive all of the benefits of union membership pay some of the costs. Fair share covers the administrative costs of bargaining and administering the contract. Fair share fees do not include costs of political activities. (read more)