December 2009 News from Policy Matters Ohio: Balance, Fairness and YouTube

- December 15, 2009

A Better Balance – To get the revenue we need to make the state work, Governor Ted Strickland has proposed to temporarily restore the last year of the five-year, 21 percent income-tax cut approved in 2005. This October report examines the effects of this proposal together with two other measures that would raise income-tax rates on the most affluent: Restoring the 7.5 percent rate on annual income over $200,000, and creating a new, 8.5 percent bracket for income over $500,000 (sometimes known as a “half millionaire’s tax”). We find that this would generate more than $950 million a year. Taxpayers in the top one percent would pay more than three-fifths of the total. We can’t bring Ohio into balance with the income tax alone. But a stronger income tax is a cornerstone of a sound budget strategy for the state.

Green that Plant – Ohio’s manufacturing sector is a prime target for achieving energy savings and emissions reductions. To reduce dependence on polluting fuel, most of which is purchased outside Ohio, we can help manufacturers better manage energy use. Savings could be reinvested in facilities, products, and workers. In this report, we recommend the state of Ohio: support climate change legislation; extend and expand Ohio’s Advanced Energy Fund, which is currently set to expire and is wholly inadequate in size; provide free industrial energy assessments, efficiency training, and implementation assistance to manufacturers to encourage private investment, and; investigate potential for municipal power authorities to build combined heat and power plants on brownfields in order to provide manufacturers affordable and stable energy prices through long-term power purchase agreements. The resulting savings can solidify Ohio’s manufacturing stronghold in the new global clean energy economy, and make Ohio a more sustainable and vibrant state with a vital role in the nation’s future.

Talking About Government –  If you could invest in something that helped working families make ends meet; cleaned up America’s lakes and rivers; reduced child poverty; funded mass transit; helped retired workers support themselves; caught and prosecuted lawbreakers; provided kids of all backgrounds with a free education…. Would you? You already do, it’s our government. This two-pager describes why having a well-run, effective public sector is so important.

Immigrants Boost Economy – In cities across America, immigrants are contributing to the economy in close proportion to their share of the population. In the Cincinnati and Cleveland metro areas, immigrants have higher labor force participation and higher total earnings per worker than in most of the other metro areas studied, according to this recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, co-released by Policy Matters. In the Cincinnati area, the 3 percent of the population that is foreign born contributes 5 percent of economic output; in the Cleveland area, the 6 percent who are immigrants contribute 7 percent of economic output.

Fair Share – Low- and moderate-income families in Ohio pay a much greater share of their income in state and local taxes than do the most affluent Ohioans. They’re not alone: this national report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analyzes how such tax payments differ by income levels across the country. Recent changes in Ohio’s state and local tax system have increased the disparity.

Tax Man Giveth – The Internal Revenue Service has given a $125,000 grant to the Cuyahoga EITC Coalition to expand free tax preparation for working families. This grant is the fifth largest in the country, recognition of the Coalition’s impressive results and dedication to making sure people are getting the earned income tax credit and that paid preparers aren’t taking chunks of it away from working families. Policy Matters works extensively with the Coalition and serves on its steering committee. The Franklin County EITC Coalition also received a generous grant for $51,000; see our latest report on their program.

Count and Be Counted – Ohio volunteers and non-profits are organizing for the crucial 2010 census, now just around the corner. The important information gathered next year could serve as a lifeline for Ohio’s struggling budget. 

YouTube Debut – A summer intern with video skills has put Policy Matters online in a new way. Check out these brief videos of staff talking about the organization, the work we do and the issues we research.

On the Air –  Policy Matters gets hundreds of media mentions each year, but a particularly fun one for us is a monthly appearance on America’s Workforce Radio. In November, Amy Hanauer spoke about paid sick days, in October David Rothstein talked about payday lending; listen on the second Thursday of every month from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at WERE 1490 am, or listen live online.

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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