Making Headlines: Early August 2011 News from Policy Matters

- August 10, 2011
   

Final Budget Breakdown – Policy Matters’ final assessment of Ohio’s new two-year budget shows a stark contrast between deep cuts to services (like education, day care, health and human services and funds to local governments) needed by low-middle income Ohioans, and the General Assembly’s simultaneous decision to add to the $7 billion in tax breaks offered annually. Wendy Patton commented in a July 20 radio piece (PDF here), “We’re going to experience the effects of cuts in this state budget up close and personal…”

Tax Breaks, Tax Breaks, Tax Breaks – We took a look at the more than $400 million in tax breaks included in the budget, mostly benefiting upper-income Ohioans and special interests. Ohio’s estate tax, which applies to the state’s wealthiest 8 percent and generates hundreds of millions of dollars for local services, was eliminated. Read coverage of the tax breaks in The Columbus Dispatch and this Akron Beacon Journal editorial.

Up for Grabs – The budget also authorizes massive privatization of public assets in Ohio. Among items up for grabs are the Ohio Turnpike, six prisons, the state’s liquor distribution business, parking meters and university facilities. In all, they are worth billions of dollars. The Great Ohio Sell-Off examines this rush to privatize, and asks where accountability will come from under private ownership of public goods.

Policy Matters… in DC too – On July 28, David Rothstein testified at a House Committee on Ways and Means hearing on the IRS’s new Paid Tax Return Preparer Program, pushing for better registry of paid preparers, enforcement of anti-fraud measures, and for the regulation process and fees to be made clear to consumers who use these services. Read coverage of the hearing in Accounting Today and in a story that ran in both The Boston Globe and Bloomberg News. Closer to home, organizer Shanelle Smith also testified to the Cuyahoga County Council Environment and Sustainability Committee on options for greening the county.

A Voice for Consumers – Thoughtless deregulation of the financial industry led to dire levels of home foreclosures, bankruptcies and debt, ultimately threatening the entire U.S. economy. The fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would protect consumers from exploitative financial products and prevent another similar catastrophe. After former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray was nominated to head the bureau, a number of national reporters contacted Policy Matters to comment on the brainy nominee, who was the first Ohio official to sue a mortgage servicer (GMAC) for foreclosure fraud. Read coverage in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and The New Republic.

Driven to Change the Auto Industry – In collaboration with Susan Helper and other researchers at Case Western Reserve University, Policy Matters released the initial results of a groundbreaking study, The U.S. Auto Supply Chain at a Crossroads: Implications of an Industry in Transformation on July 16. Based on extensive industry interviews and national survey data from automotive suppliers (small and large), the findings tell a story of where American manufacturing stands after decades of decline, and what paths may be available moving forward.

That’s all,
The Policy Matters Team

 

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