The latest e-news: Pre-K, protecting workers and more
Posted February 15, 2016 in eNews
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio…
The not-so-kid-friendly budget – Ohio increased its investment in early childhood education and childcare in the new budget, but the state still is far behind where it needs to be. Children of low-income families here are less likely to be enrolled in publicly funded preschool or childcare, our Wendy Patton reveals in a new report. Pre-kindergarten is key to helping set up kids for academic success. Childcare assistance helps struggling families work. Together these programs strengthen families and, ultimately, the state economy. Yet Ohio’s investment, adjusted for inflation, is behind where it was earlier in the decade, and it lags other large states, Wendy’s report found.
Stop, thieves! – We are thrilled that Cincinnati this month became the first Ohio city to pass an ordinance cracking down on wage theft, particularly for companies receiving city money. The ordinance protects workers from employers who steal wages by not paying for all hours worked, not paying overtime or violating wage and hour laws in other ways. The Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center pushed for the law, and our Hannah Halbert testified to city council. The law not only protects workers and their families, it protects businesses from unscrupulous competitors who break the law to increase profits. Cincinnati’s ordinance serves as a model. We hope other cities copy freely!
Higher ed. blues — In case you’re thinking Ohio’s tuition freeze through 2017 will be a magic bullet for struggling students and families, it won’t. The freeze helps, of course. But as Wendy Patton reported recently, higher education funding in Ohio remains dismal. Funding increases in the new budget, but still will be a half-billion dollars less in fiscal year 2017 than it was nine years earlier, adjusting for inflation. And need-based financial aid is down more than $300 million from the 2008-09 budget. Ohio should be making it easier for students to attend college and earn degrees. We aren’t doing enough.
Bipartisanship lives (sometimes) – Late last year, a bipartisan deal in Congress made key provisions of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit permanent instead of letting them expire in 2017. That agreement will help more than 400,000 Ohio families keep more of what they earn, said our policy liaison Kalitha Williams, who led state advocacy efforts. The credits not only help families, they pump more money into the economy to help businesses and communities. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown was instrumental in getting this win for Ohio families.
Pave the high road — States and local agencies should make job quality part of their plans to ensure training money is targeted to employers with good employment practices, researcher Hannah Halbert says in a recent report she co-authored. States can write workforce plans required under the new federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in ways that help employers that meet high standards, with family-friendly policies, paid sick leave and low turnover. “In an American economy struggling to create enough middle-class jobs, state and local workforce development systems need to pull their oars together in the direction of better job quality,” Hannah said.
#Well-deserved — Hannah and our Ohio delegation won an award from the National Skills Coalition for fighting to help low-wage adults get the skills they need to thrive in this often-brutal economy. This is well-deserved recognition for a warrior who gets up every day and gives this work her all.
In the news – Citing Wendy Patton’s report about Ohio’s lack of investment in preschool and childcare, an Akron Beacon Journal editorial called on state leaders to step up their game… Wendy also wrote an op-ed in The Toledo Blade outlining how Ohio’s lack of investment in public services has kept us running in place for the past decade… Zach Schiller’s and Hannah Halbert’s work on House Bill 394 helped lead major Ohio newspapers to hammer the proposal that would slash unemployment benefits and make it much harder for workers to qualify… The Washington Post quoted Zach setting the record straight on Gov. Kasich’s tax record… And our Executive Director Amy Hanauer provided good balance to a Plain Dealer story about Walmart’s wage hike to $10 an hour, saying the retailer “doesn’t deserve a trophy” for paying workers less than what a family of three needs to escape poverty.