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Posted January 25, 2016 in eNewsA roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio...#Nation’sWorst –
Research Director Zach Schiller exposed an egregious assault on unemployment compensation that would make Ohio's system one of the worst in the country in many ways, slashing benefits, hacking eligibility, and cutting employer taxes. Zach’s and researcher Hannah Halbert's dogged reporting on House Bill 394 – the worst anti-worker bill since the SB5 attack on collective bargaining – sparked statewide news coverage. Major daily newspapers editorialized against the bill, some more than once. Our allies at Advocates for Ohio’s Future and in the labor movement testified and issued phenomenal action alerts. Opponents created a hashtag #StartOver394. The backlash slowed the bill, and led lawmakers to make several amendments. But this will be a train wreck if Ohio families don’t derail it.
Hurting a good thing – Senior project director Wendy Patton’s recent report found that provisions in the Ohio budget would reverse progress under Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid has delivered health insurance to more than 650,000 Ohioans, saved money, and brought federal dollars into the state. But lawmakers are seeking a waiver from the federal government that would impose premiums and penalties on patients. This will end up causing tens of thousands to lose health-care coverage, as studies have repeatedly found. “This will work against the good health results Ohio has seen with Medicaid expansion,” Patton said.
Weatherize it – Since Ohio froze clean-energy and efficiency standards in 2014, electric utility investment in low-income home weatherization has declined by 26 percent. That’s the upshot of a recent report written by Policy Matters’ Amanda Woodrum, in collaboration with NextGen Climate America and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy. Weatherization reduces the need for struggling families to seek utility payment assistance and creates jobs in Ohio’s energy economy. If Ohio weatherized 30,000 homes of customers in payment-assistance programs each year for 13 years, we’d create nearly 2,400 jobs and produce roughly $1.77 billion in savings for Ohio families.
Jobs crawling back – Job growth in Ohio continues to lag the national rate, but the last few months have brought solid gains. The state added 15,200 jobs in December, the third straight month of strong growth, our workforce researcher Hannah Halbert reports in the latest JobWatch. The late-year rally followed very slow growth in 2015. But it will take many more quarters of good results to get Ohio firmly on track. We have added jobs at a rate slower than the nation's since the start of the 2007 recession. U.S. jobs have grown by 3.5 percent since then, while the Ohio rate stands at 0.6 percent.
Zombie power plants – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is considering forcing FirstEnergy ratepayers to subsidize two outdated, inefficient power plants that can’t produce energy at competitive rates. Researcher Michael Shields described the misguided arrangement to keep the two plants in business – the coal-fired W.H. Sammis plant on the Ohio River and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo. “It’s a mistake to make First Energy customers pay for this inefficient bailout deal,” Michael wrote.
Join our crew: Policy Matters is hiring an outreach coordinator now in Cleveland and recruiting people with a master’s degree to take part in an amazing state policy fellowship where you could be placed in our Cleveland or Columbus office starting next fall. The fellowship application deadline is Feb. 8. Check ‘em out!