January 2009 from Policy Matters Ohio: Hires, Fires and other January news

- January 15, 2009

Debate of the State – Governor Strickland’s State of the State address yesterday offered a glimpse of the good (full day kindergarten, early childhood investment, more green job, trains from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati, smarter teacher training, broader health care coverage); the bad ($3.2 billion in budget cuts) and the ugly (more tax breaks). Details will emerge in next week’s budget unveiling, and we’ll be on hand to dissect ’em….

Get a job (with us!) – Want to be part of creating good jobs and a greener Ohio? Policy Matters and the Apollo Alliance are each hiring – both positions will be located at Policy Matters, preferably in our Cleveland office. The Policy Matters job involves doing advocacy, organizing and research on a federal carbon cap, determining what provisions will make a carbon cap compatible with Ohio’s industrial economy, and advocating for the inclusion of those provisions. Expertise in industrial and energy issues and ease working with our congressional delegation are essential to this high-level position. The Apollo Alliance position will be charged with organizing, advocacy, research promotion and other tasks in support of a green energy economy that creates jobs in Ohio. Follow application instructions precisely.

Where there’s smoke –  The top story on the Columbus news on the Saturday of MLK weekend was of a huge fire in the building that houses our Columbus office. We’re sad to report that many of the stores, restaurants and offices in the this friendly Grandview neighborhood were completely destroyed. Our suite was spared the worst of the damage, but we’re still figuring out what we can salvage and where our Columbus office will be. In the meantime, direct calls to our Cleveland office.

Failed Tax Policy – In 2005, Ohio overhauled its state tax code on the promise that the changes would improve economic conditions for ordinary Ohioans. More than three years later, these changes are removing over $2 billion a year from the state’s budget at a time when the state desperately needs revenue. The 2005 Tax Overhaul and Ohio’s Economy, analyzes recent state economic trends and finds that H.B. 66 has not produced desired results. Even before the recession, Ohio lost ground relative to the nation on key indicators such as employment, output, income, and productivity. This shouldn’t surprise us as past research has found no evidence that slashing state spending leads to economic growth. Instead we should raise adequate amounts of revenue to provide public services by restoring personal income tax rates to recent levels, strengthening business taxes and eliminating unnecessary tax breaks. A state earned income credit is also needed.

Expensive Business – The tax overhauls phased out two of the most significant taxes on business: The Corporate Franchise Tax on nonfinancial companies, which is the state’s corporate income tax, and the Tangible Personal Property tax, a local tax imposed on machinery, equipment, inventories, furniture and fixtures used in business in Ohio. It replaces them with a new Commercial Activity Tax (CAT), based on gross receipts in Ohio. Business tax revamp: A Deficit in the Making, finds that the business tax swap contributed importantly to the state’s budget deficit. Businesses saved more than $500 million during the state’s 2008 fiscal year ended last June. When fully implemented, the changes are likely to reduce state revenue by $1 billion or more a year. This report reviews effects on state government, local government, companies and industries and recommends a more sustainable tax policy.

For you? Free! – The Cuyahoga EITC Coalition commissioned Policy Matters to help figure out how free tax preparation can work better, how to encourage clients to save some of their refunds, and how lower-income families can begin building financial assets. Through surveys and focus groups, Policy Matters found that clients appreciate the free tax preparation, would like assistance with financial planning and saving, but face obvious huge hurdles in developing financial assets because their basic expenses often exceed their earnings. Learn more here. Want to get your own earned income credit return processed for free? Click here or call 2-1-1 (First Call for Help) to learn how.

You might have missed –  The Nation named Policy Matters the most valuable state or regional group in the country for 2008. 

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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