December 2006 News from Policy Matters Ohio: New Year, New Analyses, New Ohio

- December 20, 2006

Good News on Election day – Nationwide, minimum wage measures saw victories and Ohio was no exception. Ohio citizens voted to give 719,000 Ohio workers a raise in 2007. This is a clear victory for Ohio workers who’ve been struggling to make it on $5.15 an hour. 

Bad News Since – The Republican legislature passed a bill in the lame duck session that tries to cut home care workers and others out and limits workers’ ability to join together to sue those who break the law. In the guise of implementing what the voters had passed, legislators actually explicitly defied voter intent. Their unconstitutional move will surely spark an immediate lawsuit. Talk about lame…..

The legislature also gutted consumer protection during the December session, passing a bill that would take away wronged consumers’ right to sue for non-economic damages. It was that threat that kept unscrupulous sellers in check – if they bilked consumers, they knew they might have to pay real money. Outgoing Republican Attorney General Jim Petro and incoming Democratic Attorney General Mark Dann agree that the new scheme is a consumer killer – and consumer advocates are urging Governor Taft to veto the ill-advised bill and keep in place the modest consumer protections that we have.

Employment Stays Flat – Employment in Ohio remains on its recent plateau, according to seasonally adjusted payroll numbers for nonfarm wage and salary jobs released Nov. 21 by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS). The number of jobs in Ohio has ebbed slightly over the summer and fall months, declining by 9,000 since its recent peak in May. More info here.

Recession Looming? – Job growth’s been weak, but could get worse if our friends at the Center for Economic Policy Research are right – they think the economy’s headed toward another recession. If so, Ohio could be in the miserable position of having fewer jobs at the end of a national economic expansion than it had prior to the previous recession. Read the CEPR predictions here.

TABOR Tabled – But 2006 was, in some ways, a good year for policy. A year ago, we worried that state budgets would be stymied by an absurd amendment to cap spending. The so-called TABOR proposal in Ohio was withdrawn by supporters before it hit the ballot, in part because of the outcry from local governments who knew it would cripple their ability to provide basic public services. Ohio legislators passed a weak version of what supporters had hoped to put on the ballot – a bad move to be sure. But voters here and elsewhere rejected the most extreme forms of this measure. In sixteen states, TABOR-style budget busters were being pushed a year ago. Not one of the original proposals has become law.

Hey, thanks for asking – Ohio elected officials are seeking our advice. On education, energy, economic development, taxes, wealth building and workforce policy, our phone is ringing at Policy Matters with transition teams asking us to take part, elected officials coordinating strategy sessions, and requests for analysis. In addition to assisting whenever we’re asked, Policy Matters will be coming out with a comprehensive economic plan early in the new year. A new year, new elected officials, a new report from Policy Matters…. we hope all will lead to new prosperity for you and for Ohio.

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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