October 2008: Boo! Halloween news from Policy Matters Ohio

- October 20, 2008

Tricky economy – Since our founding eight years ago, Policy Matters has warned about an economy that doled out treats to the wealthiest while leaving low- and middle-income workers out in the cold. We noted the frightening spike in foreclosures and demanded better regulation. We warned about underinvestment in people, infrastructure and alternative energy, and we laid out a vision of a smarter economy that invests in the future, creates opportunity, and increases equity and sustainability. This campaign briefing for candidates provides the beginnings of a blueprint for a smarter approach that leaves us less scared about tomorrow.

Bloodsucking loans – A recent small survey of Ohio credit counselors found that these accredited professionals are deeply concerned about the costs of payday loans to their clients. The responses, summarized in our new report, revealed a consistent conclusion that payday loans are harmful to low- and middle-income working families. If you agree, vote YES on Issue 5 next week to keep in place a sensible cap on interest rates that was passed by the legislature. A “yes” vote on issue 5 has been endorsed by our current Governor Ted Strickland, former Governors Bob Taft, George Voinovich, Richard Celeste and John Gilligan, current Attorney General candidates Richard Cordray and Mike Crites and previous Ohio Attorneys General James Petro and Betty Montgomery. The campaign will hold a seance tonight to seek the bipartisan support of the ghosts of governors past…

Terrifying Tax Breaks –  Ohio gives special tax treatment to payday lenders and mortgage brokers, who pay a lower state tax rate than banks under an outmoded tax law unique to Ohio. Lobbyists and debt collectors don’t have to bill their clients for sales tax. The state also recently made it much easier for high-income retirees who spend part of the year out of state to avoid paying Ohio income tax. These are among a dozen tax breaks our report says could be slashed to generate up to $270 million annually for essential programs and to make the tax system more fair. We recommend putting the nail in the coffin on these loopholes, and finding more to bury.

But here are a few treats: a clean-energy, job-rich future – Governor Ted Strickland joined Apollo Alliance President Jerome Ringo and Apollo Alliance Board Chair Phil Angelides (who was California’s state treasurer), along with business, labor, community and environmental leaders, to unveil the new national Apollo Alliance plan for clean energy and good jobs. Click here to learn about the 10-year plan for energy independence.

…with better teachers – In 1981, a groundbreaking Toledo program created a model for teacher support and development that has fostered new relationships among teachers and administrators. Since then, about 70 districts nationally have put similar efforts in place, often laying the foundation for other new ways to improve teaching and learning. This study can help Governor Strickland review one very effective model as he seeks to improve Ohio schools.

… and new jobs – Join the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio AFL-CIO, the United Labor Agency and other leaders to think about how best to spur job creation in Ohio, ensure that workers are ready to fill those jobs, and assist those displaced by our volatile economy at a Columbus conference on November 18-19. If you want to brainstorm a brighter future for Ohio’s workforce, contact nancy.roth@ula-ohio.org to register or learn more.

You might have missed –  Our other research on payday lending, our director on TV, our annual report, or our prescriptions for health care, the income tax, unemployment and more. Go to www.policymattersohio.org for sweet solutions to some very petrifying policies …

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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