A system in debt; a bad tax bill; a painful jobs recovery

- December 12, 2014

In this e-news: Ohio’s unemployment compensation system is in peril; job gains in October were meager; Ohio municipal income tax bill is bad for cities.

An ailing system  – Ohio has failed to adequately fund the unemployment compensation system, resulting in a debt of more than $1 billion to the federal government. Our November report reveals that the primary problem is that employers pay tax on just the first $9,000 in each employee’s wages each year — well below the national average of $13,259.

Lackluster job growth – October brought a welcome drop in the Ohio unemployment rate, to 5.3 percent, but the gain in jobs was meager. The state continues to lag the nation in job creation, and has yet to recover about 111,000 jobs since the start of the 2007 recession. The U.S. Labor Department has since reported that nationally employers added 321,000 jobs in November, the largest monthly gain in nearly years. Let’s hope for a similar boost next month in Ohio, where the numbers come out a little later.

Bad for cities – House Bill 5 is framed as a law to streamline municipal tax collections, but the legislation will preserve corporate tax loopholes, create new ones and costs cities needed revenue. Policy Matters’ Zach Schiller’s testimony to lawmakers lays out the problems.

In the news – Midwest Energy News, a nonprofit news site that covers the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, highlighted a report by Policy Matters’ Amanda Woodrum that details how Ohio has derailed  home weatherization efforts for low-income households. The Sandusky Register talked with Policy Matters researcher Wendy Patton for its story about Medicaid expansion legislation. Wendy also appeared on America’s Work Force Radio to discuss the benefits of Medicaid expansion with host Ed “Flash” Ferenc.  Zach Schiller’s op-ed in The Toledo Blade described Ohio’s underfunded unemployment compensation system. Schiller’s testimony to lawmakers about House Bill 5, a flawed bill addressing municipal income taxes, also drew attention from several media outlets, and prompted an editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Cleveland tragedy  – As a Cleveland-headquartered organization, we joined so many Americans in mourning the tragic shooting of 12-year-old Clevelander Tamir Rice. We’re heartened by the peaceful protesters who seek better police-community relations. #BlackLivesMatter.

Wanted – A top job advocating for Ohio’s poor is open. The Ohio Poverty Law Center, which takes on systemic legal issues that affect the poor, is seeking a new director.

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