May 2010 News from Policy Matters Ohio: Building Income, Employment, and Sustainability

- May 15, 2010

Future Middle Class – Ohio’s young adults are coming of age in a tough economy, ravaged by a deep recession. High education costs, lower wages, and weak regulation of exploitative lending combine to put young adults behind, just as they should be getting started. This report from Policy Matters and Dēmos documents how weakening policies and structural changes are making things harder for today’s young families. Strong policies, as well as individual effort created the middle class of the last century. This report, and the event we held when we released it, lay out how we can recommit to policies that build Ohio’s future middle class.

Limiting layoffs – An Ohio lawmaker has proposed that Ohio join 17 other states that are using worksharing, a creative approach to help employers and workers weather bad times. These states let employers – instead of laying off workers – shorten employees’ workweeks and use unemployment compensation to make up for part of the income loss. Worksharing would provide a means for some Ohio employers to avert layoffs.

Federal taxes compared –  As lawmakers debate making the Bush tax cuts permanent, Citizens for Tax Justice analyzed the difference between the approaches promoted by President Obama and the congressional Republicans. Obama’s plan would reduce taxes for middle- and lower-income families. Eighty percent of Ohio earners would see a bigger tax benefit under this approach than under the Republicans’ approach. Read about it here.

Legislative Briefing – The Ohio Workforce Coalition and Policy Matters cosponsored a legislative briefing on unemployment compensation, which provides crucial support for jobless Ohioans and stimulates the economy. Last year, more than half a million Ohioans received unemployment compensation. Our briefing pointed out that Ohio can obtain $176 million from the federal government if it takes steps to modernize its unemployment compensation system, such as allowing jobless Ohioans who have met all the other requirements for UC to qualify if they are seeking part-time employment. Ohio’s UC trust fund is broke not just because a lot of people are receiving benefits, but because it kept taxes so low that reserves were weak. A key part of the solution is to increase the share of wages that is taxed, currently just the first $9,000 of each worker’s annual earnings.

Energy, markets, jobs – National policy to cap carbon emissions is needed to create stable domestic advanced energy markets. Midwestern legislators have called for a set of policies to ensure American producers are not undercut by trading partners with lax environmental regulations. This issue brief explains three policy proposals that can secure domestic jobs without damaging international relationships: output-based rebates, border adjustments, and domestic content provisions.

Tax roundup for tax day – In the last year or so, Policy Matters has completed a dozen analyses and one magazine article reviewing Ohio’s tax, revenue, and budget situation. In summary, Ohio has substantially cut taxes over the past five years. Combined with the national economic downturn, this creates a tight revenue situation. Services in Ohio continue to be devastated by the cuts. The federal stimulus provided extensive fiscal relief, but even more drastic cuts will be required unless additional sources of revenue are found.

Save that Date – Joan Fitzgerald, author of the new book Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, will speak at Cleveland State’s Levin College of Urban Affairs on Thursday May 27 from 4:00-6:30 p.m., along with a panel of Clevelanders, including Shanelle Smith of the Apollo Alliance. Don’t miss this great event, cosponsored by Policy Matters and Ohio Apollo, at 1717 Euclid Avenue.

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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